May 2002

A solid man leaves an empty space

May 10 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

A solid man leaves an empty space | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

A solid man leaves an empty space

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

It was no welcome news when we learned in late January that Kay Huggins had developed pancreatic cancer. At 58, Kay was far too young to die. He still had work to do and people to love.

After 30 years in campus ministry and a couple more as human resources director, Kay was the longest-tenured employee at the Baptist Building. He was also among the most trusted and most appreciated by fellow staff members. Campus ministers, summer youth workers, and countless acquaintances through the years are quick to rise up and call him blessed.

Bob Mullinax, a long time colleague, racquetball partner and friend, was one who shared thoughts at Kay's memorial service, held April 27 at Raleigh's First Baptist Church, where Kay and his wife, Barbara, were members. Bob's words work far better than mine. Speaking of the Fruitland native, Bob said:

"He was a mountain boy who never got over it, which may be the key to his blessedness. He was unpretentious. What you saw was what you got ... period. Kay never allowed himself to be devoured or compromised by any purely personal ambition. ...

"The three most prominent points of Kay's triangular life were his family, this church and the practice of his ministry. In this church he was a leader and a follower, unburdened by the need to be a drum major. He was here when the doors opened because that's the way Ethen and Junius raised him, and this church gladly and repeatedly gave him important work to do. ...

"One of Kay's favorite words was the word 'solid.' He liked to give it out as a compliment to the deserving: 'A solid person.' That's how he once described his pastor's preaching: 'Solid.' It is a fit word for Kay. No facade ... no hollow places ... SOLID.

"Kay Martin Huggins, may your tribe increase. The world needs more people like you."

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Crossing the streets of culture

May 10 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Crossing the streets of culture | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Crossing the streets of culture

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

I remember experiencing culture shock when I moved to North Carolina in 1979 (I wasn't born a Tar Heel, but I got here as quickly as I could). I served a rural church made up mostly of tobacco farmers, and it took some adjusting. I learned to prime the sticky stuff, though, and helped friends in the church "barn it" and take it down. There's nothing like being on a lower tier of poles in a hot barn when the guy above is handing down sand lugs to help you feel a part of things. (If you haven't had this experience, just think tired arms, soaking sweat, itchy leaves and sand in the face.)

It took longer to get used to the idea that basketball games matter. Where I grew up, basketball served only as a means for staying in shape between football seasons. But in North Carolina, the round ball rules. I often tell people I sought my Ph.D. at Duke out of self-defense, so I'd have a team to pull for.

And I do. I love calling North Carolina home.

Culture can be difficult to overcome in church, too. Lessons learned and impressions made while growing up in liturgical, traditional, "old-timey" or charismatic traditions are not easily lost.

I've heard it said that the popular music we listened to as teenagers will always remain our favorites - our idea of "golden oldies" - and the principle can apply to church, as well. The difficulty of finding a church that "feels like home" is often more of a cultural than a theological issue.

When cultural differences are compounded by race, the equation gets even stickier. More prejudices and preconceptions come into play, and barriers are harder to overcome. It is often and accurately said that Sunday morning worship is the most segregated hour of the week.

Some of us can remember growing up in a culture that was sharply segregated every hour of the week. Because it was all we knew, the racial - and unequal - separation of white and black Americans seemed as natural as could be, and few people (white people, at least) gave it a second thought.

Thankfully, the days of blind segregation are largely past. Sadly, prejudices and misunderstandings remain as pervasive as pollen in the springtime.

Churches were slow to get on board, but many leaders are making laudable efforts to erase racial barriers and promote increased cooperation among different racial and ethnic groups. Some churches hold joint worship services or practice "pulpit exchanges" with other ethnic congregations. Our (predominately white) Baptist State Convention recently held a special joint session with the (predominately black) General Baptist State Convention. It's a beginning.

Our population is a complex mix of many races, many cultures and many worldviews. We do not experience life or even perceive reality in the same way. It is likely that we will never fully understand each other's perspectives, whether the cultures in question are black/white, liturgical/contemporary, conservative/moderate, Christian/Muslim, urban/rural, East/West or North/South.

But we can try.

One of the things that set Jesus apart from His contemporaries was His extraordinary ability to perceive the real needs of those He met, and thus respond with compassion and understanding.

Those of us who grew up white and middle class will never fully know what it is like to leave our homes for an immigrant camp, or to struggle for acceptance because we are black, or to see the world as an Arab.

But we can try. We can learn. We can seek out cross-cultural experiences. We can visit a place where we're the ones who don't speak the language. We can develop friendships with people who are different. We can worship with noise or in silence, listen to sermons that are brimstone-laced or calmly recited.

And we can learn from each experience that all those different people out there are not objects to be inspected and judged, but individuals to be understood and loved, even - especially, Jesus said - the "least of them."

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Joining hands for kingdom building

May 10 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Joining hands for kingdom building | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Joining hands for kingdom building

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

WINSTON-SALEM - With combined resources of 1.8 million members and 6,000 churches, black and white Baptists of North Carolina "can do anything we want to" by focusing on kingdom goals, Jim Royston told a joint session of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and the predominately black General Baptist State Convention (GBSC). The last joint meeting was held in 1981.

Royston, BSC executive director-treasurer, spoke at a special session of the two conventions, held during the GBSC's annual midyear meeting. About 600 people attended the May 8 program at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

Royston announced that the BSC's Baptist Men and the GBSC's Baptist Laymen's League will jointly build two houses in Princeville this summer to aid victims of Hurricane Floyd. Royston said he prays that the joint project might grow into an effort to eradicate substandard housing statewide and bring many people to Christ. The building project will be accompanied by evangelistic efforts employing a jointly developed flyer, he said.

Earlier, convention presidents John Fuller and Jerry Pereira exchanged greetings. Fuller, president of the GBSC, noted points of closeness between the two conventions. Most towns of any size have white and black churches that began as a single congregation, he said. But, the GBSC historically has done more with other denominational groups - even "some of which we don't think are going to heaven" - than with the BSC, he said. Fuller expressed hope for more joint efforts between the two Baptist bodies.

Pereira, BSC president, said the conventions' joint efforts were "a way of trying to be the hands of Jesus in a hurting world." Using the word "hands" as an acronym, Pereira said the conventions, empowered by the Holy Spirit, should work together as Christ's healing hands, anointed hands, nail-pierced hands, dedicated hands and saving hands.

Wesley Wiley, a North Carolina native who served as a pastor in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., praised the joint plan to combine home-building and faith-sharing in promoting the kingdom of God.

Wiley, who has worked with the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) in directing cooperative ministries, referenced Jesus' comment that the "rich young ruler" was not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34). "How far is 'not far'?" he asked. "How many more conferences must we hold together before we move up?"

To get together, "we have to work a little harder," he said, taking lumber designed for fences and using it to build bridges instead.

H.C. Miller of the GBSC and James Richardson of the BSC gave a joint report on evangelism. "Evangelism is the heartbeat of our convention," Miller said. "Christ is relevant, Christ is real, and the church has a divine mandate to reach the masses."

Richardson said both conventions are called to "go ye therefore" and reach the masses, teaching them what it means to be a part of God's kingdom.

Don Bouldin, executive team leader for the BSC congregational services group, delivered a sermon based on Acts 1:6. "Why are we in existence except to get the good news out?" Bouldin asked. "The potential is in this room to change the spiritual fabric of North Carolina."

Bouldin referenced the millions of people in North Carolina who do not know or believe the gospel of Christ. The churches have a responsibility to share the good news, he said.

The churches must remember that God wants churches to be "good news clubs" rather than introverted, selfish religious societies, Bouldin said. But "we spend our time doing convention business, and not doing the business of the convention."

Bouldin said churches are called to bear fruit, but some churches have left the fruit-bearing business and started selling firewood that makes an impressive blaze but burns out quickly.

While Christians are called to be fruit bearers, Bouldin said churches are hampered by members acting as fruit consumers who take but don't give, fruit inspectors who bear no fruit but critique others, fruit flies "who only show up when there's a stink," and even "fruit loops" who "aren't on the cutting edge but over it."

To be effective in bearing fruit, Bouldin said Christians must renew their commitment to love all people, even those who are different and hard to love.

Gardner Taylor, who was pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in New York for 42 years, praised the black Baptists of North Carolina for remaining united despite "fractiousness" on the national level. "I hope the day is not far in the future that we Baptists will all be together," he said.

Taylor challenged believers to test their faith. "Any Christian who does not in some sense come into tension with civil authority and even religious authority may have his Christian credentials under question," he said.

"We have so civilized and domesticated the faith that there is no tension," Taylor said, but "there ought to be tension between what is and the word of God." Instead, "we have a slick, accomodationist pseudo-Christianity that finds comfort in whatever is rather than what ought to be."

Like Jeremiah, believers should have courage to confront evil both publicly and privately, he said.

The Baptist State Convention was founded in Greenville in 1830, as an outgrowth of the "North Carolina Benevolent Society."

The General Baptist Convention was founded in Goldsboro in 1867 as "The General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina." Since few African Americans at the time could read or write, officials of the Baptist State Convention, meeting in Goldsboro at the same time, provided some assistance with organization and the writing of a constitution for the new convention.

Currently, the GBSC has approximately 600,000 members in about 2,000 churches. The BSC counts 1.2 million members in just more than 4,000 churches and missions.

The two conventions cooperate in various ways, including a plan that provides retirement and insurance benefits for GBSC pastors and staff through the BSC's link with the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Missionary 'transition' could be slow

May 10 2002 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

Missionary 'transition' could be slow | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Missionary 'transition' could be slow

By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS, Texas - The role of the missionary transition fund established by the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) may take years rather than months to assess, according to convention leaders.

The fund was established earlier this year to provide assistance to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missionaries who resign or are fired for refusing to sign an affirmation of the SBC's 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Missionaries will need this assistance over a period of months ahead, said Don Sewell, director of the Texas Partnerships Resource Center of the BGCT. Decisions leading to immediate resignation or termination are being made in few cases, he said.

The SBC's International Mission Board has not set a firm deadline for missionaries to sign the faith statement.

"Some missionaries are deciding to resign, while others are simply not signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and willing to face any consequences while staying on the field," Sewell said.

"The bulk of people are going to be coming very, very slowly," Sewell said. "This might be a two-year process."

By the end of April, the "transitions" e-mail address established by the BGCT had received 66 contacts from active missionaries, said Steve Seaberry, equipping director of the Texas Partnerships Center. Nine of these either have resigned from the IMB or will be resigning within the next few weeks. One has decided to take an early retirement.

"We have started giving financial assistance to one family," Seaberry said. "Another family will begin receiving assistance in May; yet another will arrive in the States in June and will begin receiving assistance in September. This pattern continues."

The BGCT also has heard from missionaries on four continents who are taking early retirement rather than sign the faith statement - missionaries who will not need financial aid.

As of April 30, the BGCT had in hand cash gifts to the missionary transition fund of $1.08 million. An additional $250,000 gift in stocks was in process at that date also.

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

New Mainstream leader unafraid to take a stand

May 10 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

New Mainstream leader unafraid to take a stand | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

New Mainstream leader unafraid to take a stand

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

The new head of Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) believes that more than 500 N.C. Baptist churches share the organization's views.

Colon S. Jackson Jr., a retired Navy chaplain, was elected director of MBNC by the group's steering committee April 13 in a meeting at First Baptist Church in Greensboro.

MBNC, often seen as a moderate political organization, has a few conservative members serving on its steering committee.

Jackson said the group will back a candidate for the Baptist State Convention (BSC) second vice presidency but will not challenge incumbents in the other two top BSC offices. Larry Harper, a moderate, will finish his second one-year term as second vice president in November and is not eligible for re-election.

BSC President Jerry Pereira and First Vice President Bob Foy, both conservatives, are eligible for second terms.

Conservatives have controlled at least two of the top three BSC offices for five of the last six years.

Some moderates say they fear the BSC will be taken over by fundamentalists. Some conservatives say they fear liberal influences will take hold in N.C. Baptists pulpits.

Jackson said he wants to "educate churches" about the "potential dangers" of a takeover of the BSC.

"I'm not going to try to do battle with fundamentalists," he said. "I will point out what I see as flaws in fundamentalism."

Jackson, who served two tours in Vietnam, hopes to help churches see the consequences of losing control of the BSC.

"I know what it's like to be on the front lines," he said. "I'm not going to surrender the convention."

Jackson said he is worried that some strong moderate churches may be giving up in the struggle for control of the BSC. He said BSC institutions should stay autonomous.

"Let's continue the effort," he said. "Let's not give in."

Jackson said some churches may want to concentrate only on their own ministry efforts. He said he is not against churches ministering in their communities.

"I also believe we can do better if we cooperate," he said.

Jackson said he is unafraid to make strong statements.

"I'm a tough guy, but I'm not a bad guy," he said.

Jackson said his adrenaline flows when he is involved in a cause.

"I know I've got an uphill battle, but uphill battles have never frightened me before," he said.

Jackson, who is a trustee and an adjunct professor at Campbell University, said he considers himself a "traditional Baptist." He said he believes in the inspiration of Scripture, priesthood of believers, autonomy of the church and the freedom of every believer to live his or her life under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

"We're going to hold to those principles," he said.

Jackson said he wants to bring churches together.

"My purpose it to try to unite people under the name of Jesus Christ," he said. "My conviction is there's strength in diversity."

Jackson said he is willing to meet with conservative leaders and with leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.

"Why can't we unite?" he said. "Why can't we work together?"

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

New president to be elected at SBC meeting

May 10 2002 by Art Toalston , Baptist Press

New president to be elected at SBC meeting | Friday, May 10, 2002
  • A continuing emphasis on strengthening families, with messengers to learn details about the first-ever convention-wide family rally on June 19, 2003, in Phoenix, Ariz. - the day after the 2003 SBC annual meeting there. The rally is among the initiatives of the SBC's two-year-old Council on Family.
  • Introduction of a new thrust, "Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG)," described as a vision for what Jesus taught and called for - a concentration on the kingdom of God. The work of an eight-member Cooperation Task Force of state convention and SBC entity leaders, the EKG thrust has been endorsed by the Southern Baptist Association of State Convention Executive Directors and the SBC Executive Committee.

    This year's convention will continue the practice started last year of beginning the final session on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. and ending around 6 p.m., replacing the Wednesday evening session. Merritt said the change drew a great response from messengers and bolstered attendance at the closing session.

    Merritt's presidential address is scheduled for 11 a.m., June 11, while Claude Thomas, pastor of the Dallas/Fort Worth-area First Baptist Church, Euless, will deliver the convention sermon at 8:30 p.m. that night.

    Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, who were among eight foreign aid workers held by the Taliban from August until their rescue just before Thanksgiving, will address messengers during the 10 a.m. Tuesday SBC Executive Committee report.

    The International Mission Board report is slated for 11:15 a.m. Wednesday; North American Mission Board, 2:55 p.m. Tuesday; LifeWay Christian Resources, 7:25 p.m. Tuesday; Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, 4:55 p.m. Wednesday; Annuity Board, 10:35 a.m. Wednesday; the six SBC seminaries, 3:50 p.m. Tuesday; and Woman's Missionary Union, 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

    The week prior to the SBC, the annual Crossover evangelistic effort coordinated by North American Mission Board and Missouri Baptists will seek to penetrate metro St. Louis with the gospel. Hundreds of adults and teenagers will participate in mission opportunities throughout the region.

    Messengers wanting to introduce resolutions for consideration must do so before the start of the Tuesday afternoon session. Resolutions should be sent before the annual meeting to the Resolutions Committee c/o Convention Relations, Executive Committee, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203.

    The registration of messengers will open at 4 p.m. on June 9 and at 8 a.m. on Monday through Wednesday.

    Messengers must be credentialed by their respective churches.

    Most state conventions do not automatically send the cards to churches. The churches must request the messenger cards from their state convention offices.

    If a messenger comes to the meeting without a properly completed card, the person must go before the convention's Credentials Committee. The Credentials Committee will open after 8:30 a.m. on June 11. Any messenger who does not have a messenger card should bring a letter from the church and meet with the Credentials Committee.

    The convention does not register "alternate messengers."

    Additional information about the SBC annual meeting can be found at

  • Friday, May 10, 2002

    New president to be elected at SBC meeting

    By Art Toalston Baptist Press

    ST. LOUIS - Southern Baptists will elect a new president and focus on missions, family life and vision for the kingdom of God during their June 11-12 annual meeting in St. Louis.

    Only one presidential nominee has been announced, Dallas-area pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church, to succeed James Merritt, an Atlanta-area pastor who has served the maximum two consecutive one-year terms.

    The election will take place during the afternoon of June 11, in St. Louis' America's Center, site of the two-day SBC annual meeting and various auxiliary meetings such as the June 9-10 Pastors' Conference and the Woman's Missionary Union Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration.

    The SBC's emphasis on missions likely will be fueled by the June 11 appearance of Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer who were arrested last year by the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan for sharing their faith - and by the convention's closing speaker Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.

    "And I think we're going to see once again some very dynamic reports from both the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board," said Merritt, the outgoing president.

    Through a missions emphasis fashioned around the SBC theme of "The Highest Power for the Greatest Task," Merritt said he has been praying that the convention "will make a fresh commitment to evangelism and to missions to reach people for Christ."

    "I will always believe that missions, as much as anything else, is what really distinguishes us from so many other denominations. It's one thing to say you believe in salvation by grace through faith alone, but if you really believe it, then who should have more of a passion for souls than Southern Baptists?"

    Also ahead at the SBC annual meeting:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Art Toalston , Baptist Press | with 0 comments

    A 'missions extravaganza'

    May 3 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    A 'missions extravaganza' | Friday, May 3, 2002

    Friday, May 3, 2002

    A 'missions extravaganza'

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    RIDGECREST - New Executive Director-treasurer Ruby Fulbright and new President Caroline Jones enjoyed a rousing reception as more than 2,500 women affiliated with Woman's Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) gathered over the course of two consecutive weekends to worship, learn, celebrate and focus on a variety of missions.

    The two "Missions Extravaganza" weekends were held April 19-21 and 26-28 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center.

    The first weekend featured the organization's annual business meeting, a "language" track that attracted about 300 ethnic women and a bilingual worship service in English and Spanish.

    The second weekend included a component for Acteens, with more than 175 Acteens and their leaders participating.

    Both sessions offered more than 70 different conferences on topics ranging from missions projects to personal witnessing, from spiritual growth to dealing with depression or grief, from cultural dynamics to specific ideas for growing a healthy WMU ministry.

    Speakers focused on ministry projects WMU-NC has sponsored in recent years. Lillian Isaacs, a former missionary in Alaska who was described as "the mother of literacy training," spoke of her experiences in helping people come to know Christ through teaching them to read. Sharon Maalik, from Raleigh, described ways in which the Christian Women's Job Corps program had helped her during a difficult time by offering spiritual encouragement and practical economic assistance.

    Katharine Bryan, who has served as interim executive director-treasurer/consultant for the past 15 months, taught a series of Bible studies and introduced new executive director-treasurer Ruby Fulbright, who has served the past three years as WMU-NC president. Fulbright assumed her new duties on May 1.

    Fulbright previously served as director of discipleship and missions at Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville. Her husband, Ellis, is director of missions for the South Roanoke Association.

    Fulbright recalled words she spoke three years earlier in accepting the role of president. "It is still with a great sense of awe, with fear and trembling, with much humility, yet with much excitement that I stand before you today as the new executive director-treasurer. ...

    "I believe in WMU, and I believe in you," she said. "Leadership is not about power but about showing the way, going before." Fulbright encouraged those present to pray for her, for the state WMU staff, for the officers, and for each other.

    Caroline Jones, of Blaise Baptist Church in Mocksville, will succeed Fulbright as president of WMU-NC. Jones and her husband, Archie, are former missionaries to Chile. She recently began a term on the Baptist State Convention General Board, and was elected to its Executive Committee as an at-large member.

    Jones recalled how a department store clerk had recommended "anti-gravity cream" to counteract the wrinkle-inducing downward force of gravity. "We don't want to be held down," she said, "but pulled upward to the Master, so we can carry out the tasks He has for us."

    Ann Bryant of Tuckaseege Baptist Church in Mount Holly was elected 1st vice-president, and Dianne Daniels of Haw River First Baptist Church in Haw River will return as 2nd vice-president for her fourth and final year of eligibility. Beth McDonald of McDonald Baptist Church in Rockingham will continue to serve as recording secretary, and Wendy Case of Spencer Baptist Church in Spindale will serve as assistant recording secretary.

    In other business matters, attendees adopted a 2003 budget request of $460,450. WMU's budget is funded by the annual North Carolina Missions Offering.

    Those present also amended and restated the organization's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The new document includes a purpose statement that says, "Woman's Missionary Union of North Carolina is a missions organization whose purpose is to challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    'Feed my sheep' from a shepherd's perspective

    May 3 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

    'Feed my sheep' from a shepherd's perspective | Friday, May 3, 2002

    Friday, May 3, 2002

    'Feed my sheep' from a shepherd's perspective

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

    Bill Easum has an answer for church members who use Jesus' instructions to Peter to "Feed my sheep" as justification for the pastor taking care of church members.

    Easum, a Christian futurist and author, believes pastors should equip church members for ministry. He and Tom Bandy, his partner in the church consulting firm of Easum, Bandy and Associates, led seminars in North Carolina April 24-25.

    The story of Jesus talking to Peter in John 21 should be read from the perspective of a 1st century shepherd, Easum said.

    "Have you ever seen a shepherd feed sheep?" he asked.

    Shepherds take the sheep to a field where they can graze. Since sheep destroy the fields where they eat, the shepherd has to keep them moving, he said.

    "If the church is running out of room, find another pasture," Easum said. Some options are to plant a church, move to a new site or have multiple sites.

    Easum said the shepherd also keeps the sheep safe.

    He said churches need to have worship services that "don't scare people to death." They should make sure nursery workers have been checked out, he said.

    Pastors must make sure "the sheep" are growing and safe, he said.

    "Why?" he asked. "So they produce more sheep. Have you ever seen a shepherd beget sheep?"

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

    Senior adults 'soar unafraid'

    May 3 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Senior adults 'soar unafraid' | Friday, May 3, 2002

    Friday, May 3, 2002

    Senior adults 'soar unafraid'

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    GREENSBORO - Headliners like Pat Boone and Meadowlark Lemon helped to attract more than 1,600 senior adults to Greensboro for the third North Carolina Senior Adult Festival sponsored by the Baptist State Convention (BSC), but ministry took center stage. The festival was held April 29-May 1 in the special events center of the Greensboro Coliseum.

    A 700-voice senior adult choir performed for a packed house on the opening night, singing Joy in the Journey, a cantata written by Bob and Esther Burroughs. Bob Burroughs, former director of music for the Florida Baptist Convention, directed the choir.

    Esther Burroughs, a former field staff director for the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), delivered a series of interpretations on the festival theme "Soar Unafraid."

    Wilmington native Meadowlark Lemon, former star of the Harlem Globetrotters, flashed his trademark smile and ball-handling skills as he talked about of the importance of sharing one's faith without fear.

    Lemon spoke of a time when he sank a hook shot from the foul line on the opposite end of the basketball court. When a man said "Teach me how to do that," Lemon told him the shot had to come from the inside. He described his conversion in 1986 and his subsequent decision to become a minister as experiences in which God changed him from the inside out.

    Singer Pat Boone, who set sales records in the 1950's, performed "A Wonderful Time Up There," a gospel song he took to the top of the charts during his "rock and roll" career. Boone's message focused on family values, and he encouraged seniors to exercise their faith in the public arena. "Our constitution was written by a Christian coalition," he said.

    Attendees enjoyed the rollicking comedy of Carl Hurley, a former college teacher billed as "America's funniest professor." Hurley told seniors they still had contributions to make.

    Gospel artist Cynthia Clawson, accompanied by Bruce Greer, exhibited a wide range of musical styles, moving seamlessly from hymns to plainsong to Celtic airs. Both Clawson and Greer are Dove Award winners.

    While the "big name" entertainers were well received, the festivalgoers' warmest response was reserved for Cheryl Allen, who founded the "Door of Hope" ministry in Johannesburg, South Africa. Roy A. Smith, former on-site coordinator of the BSC's partnership with South Africa, introduced Allen as a fearless and faithful woman who is committed to serving Christ through helping others.

    Allen, who is pastor of the Berea Baptist Mission in the inner-city Hillbrow section of Johannesburg, spoke of how thieves had recently sought to rob worshipers, and how she had survived a serious automobile accident with minor injuries. She thanked God for protection, but said "We accept from His hand whatever comes," whether good or bad.

    Allen described the origin and growth of the Door of Hope, a ministry dedicated to saving babies who would otherwise be abandoned in the streets of Johannesburg. A 10-bedroom "baby house" in the suburbs has been functional for about two years, and an anonymous North Carolina donor recently contributed enough money to purchase another large house adjoining the church property and to operate it for a year. Allen said the ministry has helped more than 110 babies so far, and continues to expand.

    The Berea church also provides food and other assistance for immigrants who flee violence in other parts of Africa, Allen said. She spoke of leading a girl to Christ, and then meeting her father, a man from Rwanda who now cares for his children and his brother's children. The man's wife, brother and brother's wife were all killed in the bloody conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. "He walked with the children through five countries on his way to Hillbrow," Allen said, as she spoke of appealing to friends to help feed the man's large family.

    "We always rely on God alone," Allen said. "When God calls you to a ministry, you don't wait for the funds - you obey.

    "We are learning every day to soar unafraid with God," Allen said.

    Participants contributed more than $8,600 to an offering for the Door of Hope and Berea Baptist ministries.

    "The Healing Force," a family of four African-American drummers/singers/story-tellers from Winston-Salem, set the stage for Allen's remarks.

    Other entertainers and worship leaders included former Miss North Carolina Jeanne Robertson, popular speaker and author Calvin Miller, Raleigh minister Pepper Choplin, retired church music professor Max Lyall (currently minister of music at Woodbrook Baptist Church in Baltimore), and Christian composer/recording artist Luke Garrett.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Tips for freeing a stuck church

    May 3 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

    Tips for freeing a stuck church | Friday, May 3, 2002

    Friday, May 3, 2002

    Tips for freeing a stuck church

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

    "Stuck" churches often start at the wrong place while trying to become unstuck, a Christian futurist said.

    Bill Easum spoke about "nine unfreezing moves" to help stuck churches at a seminar in Raleigh on April 25. Easum and Tom Bandy, his partner in the church consulting firm of Easum, Bandy and Associates, led a similar event in Charlotte a day earlier.

    About 125 attended the Raleigh meeting while about 85 attended in Charlotte.

    Several dozen N.C. Baptists attended each event, called "Where is Jesus Going? Way, Way Beyond Emmaus."

    Easum, whose latest book is entitled UnFreezing Moves: Following Jesus Into the Mission Field, said stuck churches must first have a "solid community of faith" before moving forward. This involves growing spiritual leaders, he said.

    "Sooner or later, everything depends on this," he said.

    Easum said the community of faith functions around trust. Churches with major, on-going conflict can't move forward. This doesn't mean the church will not have angst or confusion.

    Spiritual development is not a program, Easum said.

    "Some of you will say, 'What program do I need to buy?'" he said. "You've got it. It's called the Bible."

    Easum said people who aren't serving shouldn't be entitled to make decisions. He suggested four criteria for leaders - tithing, involvement in a small group or Sunday School, attendance at worship and involvement in a monthly mission.

    "The only reason controllers control is you don't have spiritual leaders who will hold them accountable," he said.

    Behavior is more important than education, Easum said.

    "There's a lot of people who know the Bible, but they don't do squat about it," he said.

    The second "unfreezing move" is finding the "biblically sound and culturally relevant DNA" of the church, Easum said.

    A church's "DNA" is its "clear mission, vision and values." This might also be called its purpose or core values, he said.

    "Don't start here," Easum said. "You have to have spiritual leaders first."

    Easum said DNA determined by a church committee during a weekend retreat is seldom helpful.

    Once the solid community of faith and DNA are established, the church can think about the next three unfreezing moves - indigenous worship, mobilizing the congregation and redemptive mission opportunities. Easum called these the "engines of an innovative congregation."

    Indigenous worship is worship that is intended to reach people outside the church. Such worship is built around experience, Easum said.

    He used the example of a church that holds a worship service featuring rhythmic sounds and no spoken words.

    "All you hear is noise unless you're there to worship," he said. "It's an experience."

    The opposite of experience is boredom, Easum said.

    He described indigenous worship as "a safe, relevant place to have an authentic experience with God."

    "The key to indigenous worship is, 'Does it provide an experience that is authentic that leads to God?'" he said. "If it doesn't start with experience, it can't lead to God."

    Easum said he's never seen a church move toward innovation with one worship service unless it radically changed the existing worship service.

    "If you're using hymnals, it's not indigenous worship to pagans," he said.

    Starting a new worship service is the easiest way to grow a church and the easiest way to get in trouble, he said.

    "If you've got major conflict or major controllers, deal with that first," Easum said.

    Church leaders can begin mobilizing the congregation only if the church is free from major conflict and has indigenous worship, Easum said.

    Large churches need to identify those who are ready for change, recruit those who are willing and discern those who are open to coaching, he said.

    Easum said smaller churches should equip those who will commit their time, deploy those who will "finish the race" and coach them along in ministry.

    Church leaders must go through four mental shifts that "are simple but hard," he said.

    The first is changing the attitude toward new people from "What can you do for us?" to "How can we assist you?"

    The next is moving toward unpaid servants instead of entitled volunteers.

    "You can hold servants accountable," he said. "You can't hold volunteers accountable."

    The third is changing from nominated workers to those who are called.

    The fourth is matching ministry to gifts, rather than electing leaders.

    "Leadership multiplication is the goal," Easum said.

    That multiplication can be achieved by what Easum referred to as "fractaling," the constant repetition of the same thing over and over and over.

    "You find what works and do it over and over until it quits working," he said. "Everyone trains everyone."

    Easum gave an example of a fractal with a church starting an indigenous worship service. The worship leader recruits people to lead different areas of worship, such as music, visuals, the arts and logistics. Each leader then finds people to lead sections of that area.

    For example, the music leader might look for people to lead the writing, the instruments, the singing and other areas. Those leaders then recruit people for their team.

    The leaders, in effect, become pastors of their area.

    "No one works with more than 10 people in this model," Easum said.

    A church in Hawaii used the model to grow from four people to about 9,000 in six years, he said.

    Many churches make the mistake of trying to move forward through holding "redemptive missional opportunities," Easum said.

    He said churches must first change from having a missions committee to a missional attitude; from having active and involved members to disciples; from offering programs to a reason for being; and from raising money to sending people.

    Easum said the final four unfreezing moves - organizing around the DNA, hiring servants instead of professionals, using place and space as metaphors and practicing radical generosity - support the first five.

    Bandy told the group that North America today is a "pagan world," similar to the 1st century Roman world.

    He said five elements are needed to communicate to modern-day pagans - people who orient their lives around something other than Christian values.

    To reach pagans, Christians must have a transforming experience - tell how God has changed their life, not just somebody's else's life; have a specific narrative to tell in the contemporary setting because unbelievers are not interested in such facts that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy; have a particular and peculiar companion, going out in twos and threes, not alone; live differently because they're not like everybody else; and have an urgent sense of missions.

    "Don't over plan - just do it," Bandy said.

    Bandy said that instead of reaching out to the pagans, churches build "fire walls" to resist change.

    Church members tend to look for a scapegoat, blaming their current circumstances for their failure to change, Bandy said.

    Churches emphasize turf protection and serving the church members, he said.

    Members look toward self-preservation and their need to control, Bandy said.

    Bandy offered a "diet" approach for the "fat" church. He identified churches' "fat" cells as too much property or buildings, old technology, endowments, "church type" music that is never heard anywhere but in church, curriculum and too many paid staff members.

    He said churches need a "good" diet of worship, spiritual growth, missions, leadership and relevant organization that follows its mission.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Bill Boatwright of the Baptist State Convention's communications office contributed to this report.)

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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