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Newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention N MORE NEWS AT TEXANONLINE.NET
GOD LOVES YOU
Spiritual development of children begins at home By Tammi Ledbetter Special Assisgnments Editor FORT WORTH “Children learn spiritual and moral principles best from people who care for them on a consistent basis.” With that goal in mind, Ann Iorg challenges parents and extended family members to help children develop spiritually by first teaching them to love God. “Even those who came to Christ as an adult usually had a friend, a grandparent, aunt or uncle who at least let them know they were loved by God,” Iorg told a breakout session of the Homemaking Conference offered at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary earlier this year. The wife of the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Iorg has directed and taught preschool at several of churches for more than 30 years. Iorg said the framework for spiritual development is offered by Jesus in Matthew 22:3540 when he summarized the truths found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Exodus 20:1-17. “The most important concept a child can have is to love God with
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DARRINGTON PRISON UNIT
‘AGENTS OF MERCY’ First seminary prison program in Texas graduates 33 inmates
By Keith Collier Managing Editor
Robed in caps and gowns over their white prison uniforms, 33 inmates in Texas’ maximum security Darrington Prison Unit made history May 9 as they received bachelor’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, becoming the inaugural graduating class of the state’s first seminary prison program. “I’m overwhelmed at what God has done,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said during the ceremony inside the prison’s chapel. “Only God could do this.” Patrick served on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee prior to being elected Lt. Gov. last fall. He and Senator John Whitmire, who chairs the committee, were the legislative heads behind the creation of the program, which began in fall 2011.
Each year since, a new class of 40 students has been added to the program, and the current number of enrolled students stands at 114. Looking at the graduates, most of whom will be deployed in groups of four or five to assist chaplains and minister in six other state prison units, Patrick called them “prison apostles”
and charged them to “be models and examples of what Christ can do in [people’s lives] if they will give their [lives] to him.” This summer, approximately two-thirds of the graduates will be transferred to six maximum security facilities in Huntsville and Tennessee Colony to repro-
5Graduates of Texas’ first-ever prison seminary program bow their heads in prayer during the commencement ceremony inside Darrington Prison Unit in Rosharon, May 9. SWBTS PHOTO/MATT MILLER
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PASTORS GATHER TO HEAR, PRAY FOR REACH HOUSTON INITIATIVE
HOUSTON If you ask the average Texan to name the most diverse city in the United States, he will probably say New York or Los Angeles. If you ask him to name the third most populated city, he will likely say Chicago. However, few Texans realize the answer to both of those questions is in their own backyard: Houston. According to 2010 census data, Houston has surpassed New York as the most ethnically diverse city in the country, with between 250-300 languages spoken. And while Houston proper has already surpassed Chicago proper in population, the Greater Houston Area is expected to eclipse Chicagoland by the year 2020.
By Keith Collier Managing Editor
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With this expanding megacity in its midst, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention hopes to see a large-scale church planting and church revitalization movement similar to the model of the North American Mission Board’s SEND City strategy. More than 20 pastors met at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in inner-city Houston April 23 to hear the vision for the initiative called Reach Houston and to pray for God to move mightily in the city. “I am burdened greatly for this city,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told pastors. He said that a “culture of prayer” must be the foundation for everything that is done to reach Houston “It’s through prayer and a burden that I came personally to the place that Houston needed this focus in church planting and revitalization,” Richards said.
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“THE NATIONS ARE COMING TO HOUSTON. THE CHALLENGE IS DAUNTING, BUT IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE. WE NEED ALL KINDS OF CHURCHES TO REACH ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE.” RICHARD TAYLOR, SBTC CHURCH PLANTING ASSOCIATE
In describing Reach Houston as similar to NAMB’s strategy in other major cities, Richards clarified that SBTC can help facilitate the work, but Houston churches must embrace their role. “If you don’t own it, we can’t do it,” Richards said. “Our state convention doesn’t have the role of carrying out the Great Commission. The Great Commission
Houston pastors gather to pray after hearing the vision for the Reach Houston initiative, April 23. PHOTO BY GARY LEDBETTER
was given to the local church; our role is to help you carry out the Great Commission, so we act as cheerleaders, coordinators, networkers, resourcers and whatever else we can be, but it ultimately will come back to you to reach Houston.” SBTC church planting associate Richard Taylor encouraged pastors to think of the possibilities for planting multi-ethnic congregations in a city where 1 in 6 residents have been born outside of the U.S. “The nations are coming to Houston,” Taylor said. “The challenge is daunting, but it’s not impossible. We need all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” Kenneth Priest, director of convention strategies for SBTC, explained that similar to NAMB’s strategy, Reach Houston will employ a strategist who will live in Houston and network with churches in the Greater Houston Area as well as
churches across Texas and North America to come to Houston for church planting and revitalization. Richards noted that he hopes to have someone in the position sometime this summer. Northeast Houston Baptist Church Pastor Nathan Lino echoed the need for a strategist to work as a “central hub to coordinate the work.” “The thing that we lack in our city is that we’re so big—we’re bigger than some states—and we’re so spread out that none of us knows what each other is doing in church planting and revitalization,” Lino said. “We don’t have anyone who has eyes on the whole city. “I think this position being filled is one of the big next steps forward because until that person comes on, we’re still operating blindly in this city. It’s going to be a better use of kingdom resources in all of our churches if we have someone who’s a central hub.”
Champion Forest Baptist Church Pastor David Fleming challenged other pastors to embrace the initiative as a longterm strategy. “Since this is our backyard,” Fleming said, “I’d like for us to think in terms of sustainability. Let’s do something that’s lasting with an impact that’s ongoing. Let’s not set this up to generate quick results that dwindle. Let’s put the right resources in the right place to generate some sustainability over time.” Richards assured pastors that Reach Houston is not a shortterm plan. “We’re asking [the strategist] to come be a catalyst and coordinator for this effort without an end date. Our commitment is for that person to stay here for however long it takes. If God chooses to show his favor on this, then we’ll look at other cities in Texas, but right now this is it, and we’re committed as a convention staff for the long haul.”
Google update could decrease churches’ web traffic By David Roach Baptist Press NASHVILLE A change in Google’s formula for prioritizing search results could keep churches without mobile-friendly websites from being as visible online to potential visitors. Starting April 21, Google updated its algorithms for searches done from mobile devices to give higher placement in the results to websites that are compatible with such devices. That means churches with older, more basic websites may not appear among the top results when, for example, mobile phone users search for “Baptist church” and their city. “Why is this a concern?” asked Michael Magruder, director of LifeWay.com for LifeWay Christian Resources. “Google estimates that over 60 percent of search queries cur-
rently originate from mobile devices. The biggest question businesses and organizations ask is, ‘How do I know if my website is mobile optimized?’” Tony Boes, the Missouri Baptist Convention’s webmaster, told Baptist Press there are simple ways a church can determine whether its website qualifies as mobile-friendly. First, pull up the site on a mobile phone. If it fits the screen well and has buttons that are a clickable size, the site likely is mobile-friendly. For a definitive answer to the question of whether a site is mobile-friendly, a church can visit Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test” website, Boes said. Simply enter the URL of your congregation’s website on that page, and Google will tell you whether it is mobile-friendly as well as provide links to information about how to improve the site.
Mobile-friendly sites, according to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog: 4Avoid using software that is not common on mobile devices, like Adobe Flash Player; 4Use text that is readable without zooming; 4Size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally to view the site; and 4Place links far enough apart that the correct one can be tapped easily. Because as many as 40 percent of websites fail to meet Google’s mobile-friendly criteria, some experts predicted the algorithm change would have a major impact, a scenario they dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” But Baptist tech experts said several facts mitigate the change’s effect on churches. For one, churches in small towns with unique names in those towns should still be rela-
tively easy to find in a search. If someone searches for such a church’s name and its town, “Google is probably going to want to give you what you’re looking for more than they want to give you something that’s just mobile-friendly,” Boes said. In addition, the change only affects Google searches done from smart phones and some Android tablets. “If you are searching from a desktop or most tablets, the search results are not expected to change,” Magruder told BP. He noted that searches in Apple Maps and Google Maps will still dis-
play results in order of proximity regardless of whether a church’s site is mobile-friendly. Still, experts agree that some congregations will be affected by the change and church websites ought to be mobilefriendly. Boes said a knowledgeable staff member or volunteer should be able to make a site mobile-friendly “relatively fast.” Becoming mobile-friendly “is only going to get more important for any website that’s out there, whether or not you’re a church, as more and more people look to the cell phone as their primary Internet device,” Boes said.
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Petition falls short in bringing Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to voters; pastors appeal By Bonnie Pritchett
“WE ARE GOING TO STAND STRONGER ON JUSTICE AND TRUTH. ... THE PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO VOTE HAS BEEN IGNORED AND REJECTED. THE MAYOR HAS VEEN TRYING TO FORCE HER AGENDA ON THE PEOPLE AT ALL COSTS.”
TEXAN Correspondent HOUSTON After two months of post-trial deliberation about the law and signature legibility, District Judge Robert Schaffer ruled April 17 that plaintiffs seeking to reverse the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) fell short in securing the minimum number of petition signatures. Though disappointed with the judgment, plaintiffs and their supporters said their resolve to continue the legal and cultural battle is only strengthened, and they filed an appeal April 30. Hernan Castano, a member of the racially diverse coalition of pastors opposing the ordinance that gives protected class status based on sexual orientation and gender identity, told his congregation following the verdict, “We are going to stand stronger on justice and truth.” The pastor of Rios de Aceite encouraged believers to pray, to remain active in the cultural debate surrounding the ordinance, and to speak God’s truth in love. Last May, the Houston City Council passed the Equal Rights Ordinance following contentious public debate. Those opposed to the ordinance—led by the Houston Area Pastors Council (HAPC)— gathered more than 50,000 signatures on a referendum to repeal it only to have their efforts thwarted by Mayor Annise Parker and then-City Attorney David Feldman. Thousands of signatures were dismissed, and the city declared the petition failed. The coalition of pastors sued but lost the first legal round when a jury ruled in February the petition failed to meet
HERNAN CASTANO, PASTOR OF RIOS DE ACEITE
Willie Davis, pastor of MacGregor Palm Community Baptist Church and petition circulator, speaks at an April 30 press conference announcing Houston area pastors’ appeal of their lawsuit with the City of Houston over its equal rights ordinance. PHOTO BY BONNIE PRITCHETT
the signature requirement of 17,269. A post-verdict ruling by Schaffer allowed once-disqualified signatures to be reconsidered as valid. Two months later, after back-and-forth disparate briefs were filed by both parties, Schaffer ruled the plaintiffs fell 585 signatures short. The petition failed, and the ordinance, which had not been implemented during the referendum effort and trial, would now be in force. “We have a HERO!” Parker wrote on her Twitter feed following the April 17 ruling. “We passed a good ordinance. We were right to reject repeal petition; jury agreed with us, judge agreed with us!” During the public debate over the ordinance Parker, a lesbian, said its passage was personal to her and she would not allow anyone to vote on her civil rights. Schaffer’s ruling ended the opponents’ effort to put the ordinance to a citywide vote in November, unless the appeal is successful.
In response to the verdict, newly appointed city attorney Donna Edmundson mischaracterized the coalition’s efforts as “pro-discrimination.” On the city’s website she stated, “This is a great victory in the courts and a great day for civil rights in Houston, Texas. I am gratified that the judge signed a final judgment rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims and confirming that their prodiscrimination referendum petition failed.” But Castano, interviewed throughout the trial by Spanish-language television stations Telemundo and Univision, said, “The people’s right to vote has been ignored and rejected. The mayor has been trying to force her agenda on the people at all costs.” Andy Taylor, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, stated repeatedly throughout the trial and post-verdict deliberations that the appellate court typically weighs its judgments more favorably on the
side of voters’ rights, something Taylor said the defense and Schaffer obfuscated. “I think Schaffer made our job on appeal easier,” Taylor said following the April 17 judgment. Taylor criticized the judge for accepting the defense argument requiring all petition circulator signatures be legible. In doing so, he opened the door for the defense to broaden its scope of “illegible” signatories; if the circulator’s signature at the bottom of a page was illegible, then all voter signatures collected on that page were invalidated. Taylor said the defense’s number of invalid signatures tossed out on that point more than tripled from 2,500 at the end of the trial to 8,500 in its final judgment statement. “So that’s what the case ended up turning on,” Taylor said. The legibility argument sets a “dangerous” precedent, making the judge the sole arbiter of legibility and, ultimately, which voter signatures will be counted on the petition. Taylor argued the dismissal of voter signatures
based on circulator penmanship establishes a de facto challenge to an individual’s right to vote. Taylor said he was confident thousands of voter signatures will be reinstated on the petition by the Texas Court of Appeals. Taylor told the TEXAN the appeal has three elements. First, a writ of mandamus asks the Texas Supreme Court to order Houston City Secretary Anna Russell to verify the voter registration of all 54,000 petition signers—something she has not done since stopping her count just short of 20,000 after verifying the minimum number of signatures needed to pass the referendum. Her signature verification was dismissed by Parker and thenCity Attorney Dave Feldman. Second, the appeal asked the Texas Court of Appeals to expedite the process, giving plaintiffs a hope of meeting the Aug. 18 deadline for getting the referendum on the November ballot. The case is likely to go before the Texas Supreme Court. Third, Taylor filed a writ of mandamus with the appellate court asking, again, for the expedited process. A writ of mandamus is a request of a court to rule without the full benefit of court proceedings. They are rarely granted, but Taylor said because of time constraints his clients have no adequate remedy to their complaint. The average appellate process takes 6-18 months. And although rushing the process is not ideal for any of the parties, Taylor said his clients requested the action. Woodfill v. Parker will be heard by the 1st or 14th Texas Court of Appeals in Houston.
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SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU Gary Ledbetter Editor
’ve said more than once that 1979 was a key year for my relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. We are in the bag for Roe v. Wade, including my ethics prof at Southwestern Seminary. Our Christian Life Commission (ERLC’s predecessor agency) was firmly proabortion, and the convention messengers were willing to affirm an unacceptable list of justifications for elective abortion. Within 10 years, the denomination had turned around on the issue, including electing Richard Land to head the CLC— the most radical change in an SBC agency short of closing the doors. Follow on victories eventually even solved the problem of pro-abortion SBC seminary professors. It was good for conscience and provided a foundation for the fight ahead. America was still on an upward trend in its love affair with abortion, even in the mid-1990s, but now Southern Baptists were on God’s side of this battle. It made a difference. Since those days, common sense laws to protect the health of women (informed consent, waiting periods, medical standards for clinics), the prerogatives of parents (parental consent for minors) and even the consciences of pro-life citizens (no public funding for Planned Parenthood) have taken a significant chunk out of abortion
in America, even though Roe is still the law of the land and the cornerstone of American liberalism. Christians opened a second front with the proliferation of pregnancy resource centers that share godly counsel, baby clothes, food, life coaching, a sonogram and the gospel with women in crisis. They provide a godly alternative to the predatory abortion business, and God has used them to change hearts and, to some degree, public opinion about abortion. I rehearse these things to perhaps open a discussion of how we are going to proceed in a culture that has gone cuckoo for sexual novelty. I write this before the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and even now the conversation has moved to jerking the tax exemption for Christian institutions and even forcing churches to allow gay weddings. My quote of the month is pertinent, even though it was aimed at abortion politics. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said April 24 during a speech on one of her favorite subjects that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,” to facilitate what she calls reproductive freedom. Is it paranoid to assume she’s not referring to a charm offensive or that she doesn’t think this way only about abortion? Regardless of how the Supremes rule, the trend line is moving steeply away from us for a variety of behaviors and self-perceptions that even advocates cannot thoroughly describe.
JUST AS PREGNANCY RESOURCE CENTERS HAVE BOUND UP THE WOUNDS OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN HURT BY THE FIRST WAVE OF OUR SEXUAL REVOLUTION, WE’LL NEED TO FIND WAYS TO PROVIDE REFUGE AND COMFORT FOR THOSE CONFUSED ABOUT EVEN THEIR SEXUAL IDENTITY.
How should we then live? We won’t need to restructure or reform our denomination to address this issue, the way we did on abortion. We are structured and equipped to address sexual behavior and identity from a biblical perspective—to teach the truth, protect the innocent and bind the wounded. If we are brave we can do those three things, even in our current political storm. Our teaching ministry will address two audiences at least. The first would be the conservative base of our churches that must overcome decades of intrinsic distaste for deviant sexuality out of proportion to our response to other sins. The second audience is made up of immature believers who hesitate to call anything sin. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, at the end of a list of sinners who will not inherit the kingdom of God, “And such were some of you.” This verse should humble the selfrighteous and convict those who undervalue righteousness (such WERE some of you). Our defense of the innocent will require those willing to work in the messy field of politics for the sake of chil-
dren abandoned to the merciless hands of social engineers. I’m thinking of those who’ve decided by fiat that men and women are interchangeable as mothers or fathers to children. And I’m thinking of the lunatic academics who’ve decided that a child too young to choose his own menu can lock in his gender identity. These kids will be the roadkill of our culture’s rush toward progressive barbarism. But on this subject I must also mention that few things our nation has embraced have done more damage than no-fault divorce. This well-intentioned law has resulted in increased fatherlessness and poverty, magnifying the misery index for women and children in
America. We’re hypocrites to mourn the defeat of our efforts to defend marriage from samesex couples without acknowledging that the Lord hates divorce more than we do. Just as pregnancy resource centers have bound up the wounds of women and children hurt by the first wave of our sexual revolution, we’ll need to find ways to provide refuge and comfort for those confused about even their sexual identity. These will suffer regardless of how tolerant and affirming our society becomes. How will we help them? It seems to me that we have a better handle at present on the teaching and defending than we do on the binding up. Real progress in the battle for life required that we have a complete approach to the truth of God and the pain of our neighbors. The battle for “family” will too. We need to stop uselessly waiting for permission or affirmation or leadership from our culture or a political body before we get busy. That help will never come, at least not from those sources.
TO THE EDITOR, I am a Christian, a retired marine and a layman of Baptist faith serving a risen Savior. Friends, America is in peril. The very freedoms that we have enjoyed for over two hundred years are being used against us, to subvert our Constitution. In our country battles against Sharia law like the one being waged in Irving by Mayor Beth Van Duyne demonstrate the nature of our adversaries. Another battle is being waged in Yemen, which could affect our religious freedom and way of life. Our Arab allies went into the chaos of Yemen without confiding in our government, our President, because they did not trust us. Once our friends loved us and our enemies feared us. Now we are mocked because we are weak and untrustworthy. God allowed the United States to become a super power to be a friend to the state of Israel. God does not need us to fight for Israel, but we have failed God as a nation. I do not know if it is too late to turn our nation around. I am advocating prayer. Consider whom you as a voter elect to political office, if there is still time for that. I am 72 years old. I have been to war. It ain’t pretty, but it was necessary. There will always be people who want power, who want to enslave and persecute others. Until Christ returns, there has to be those willing to stand against oppressors. I am willing. Are you? Tom King, Grand Prairie
Southern Baptist TEXAN VOLUME
Jim Richards, Executive Director
Gary K. Ledbetter, Editor Keith Collier, Managing Editor Tammi Ledbetter, Special Assignments Editor Sharayah Colter, Staff Writer Gayla Sullivan, Circulation Manager Russell Lightner, Layout/Graphic Artist
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FATHERS: GIVE YOURSELF TO THE LORD, THEN TO YOUR FAMILY Jim Richards Executive Director
oya Graham became an overnight celebrity when she was caught on camera disciplining her son during the recent Baltimore riots. Some have criticized her. Others have said she should be awarded “Mother of the Year.” My mother would have done the same thing. But my dad would have been there too.
The question some pundits have raised is, “Where was the boy’s father?” Sadly, one out of three babies born is without a father present in the home. With the possible redefinition of marriage by the Supreme Court on the horizon, the trend will escalate. The title of the old hymn says it well, “Rise up O men of God!” I’m grateful to God for the blessing my dad was to me. My dad has been in heaven for more than 20 years. It seems I think of him more now than I did in the first few years after his passing. Dad was a gre-
garious man. He loved people. There was nothing he enjoyed more than to visit with others. He didn’t have to know you to engage in conversation. He would easily approach anyone making them feel at ease. He was a charmer. As a child I had severe health issues. My dad worked two and sometimes three jobs to pay the bills. Dad’s main job was with the City of Monroe, Louisiana. (Yes, it is across the river from the Duck Dynasty folks.) Dad started on the back of a firetruck. He became the city’s arson investigator and
Famous Firsts Jimmy Pritchard SBTC President
has resulted in our having almost as much technology in our smart phones as he had in his Apollo space craft.
There is one more potentially PA S T O R P R AY E R famous first that could occur G AT H E R I N G : in 2015. The United States SuDAY O F P R AY E R preme Court may well soon A N D FAST I N G render a decision that redefines marriage/family and stamps JUNE 8 | FBC MOODY federal approval on same-sex JUNE 25 | CENTRAL marriage. This famous first BAPTIST CHURCH, Bryanwould redefine our nation’s College Station concept of marriage, which JULY 13 | NORTHEAST has been understood and unHOUSTON BAPTIST 4Somewhere during the debated since civilization has CHURCH years 27-28 AD, Jesus Christ existed as the union of one male was the first to be resur- and one female in relationship JULY 14 | FBC BEAUMONT rected from the dead. Others as family. The biblical concept had been resuscitated, but adds fidelity and lifetime comsbtexas.com/prayer he was the first to be resur- mitment to the definition. It is rected. The Bible says that still possible that the court will he is the first fruit of a great decide in favor of the traditional same-sex marriage hold for harvest, promising multi- concept of marriage, but many their agenda. tudes of people to follow in believe a redefinition is a fore4The light must shine from resurrection. The continu- gone conclusion. No one knows exemplary families and ing implications of this fa- what implications this famous homes built on the biblical mous first are staggering. first would have on our culture perspective into the dark4In 1913, Henry Ford began or how many other falling domness of the culture. mass-producing his Model inos will follow. I shudder to 4We must not cave in to T through an assembly line. think what will be unleashed in the pressure that may be exYou can experience the im- our country and even our world erted on us to change our poplications of this famous first should this famous first occur. sition. The gospel is at stake in every urban area in our My concerns are not only in the as marriage is designed to country from 7-9 a.m. and practical implications but the show the relationship Jesus 4-6 p.m. daily. spiritual applications as well. Christ has to the church. To 4In 1954, Roger Bannister Until the decision is rendered, cave in is to deny or change was the first to break the we can pray that God will move the gospel. four-minute barrier in the upon the hearts and minds of 4We are in desperate need mile run. It does not raise an the Justices. Should they come of spiritual awakening. These eyebrow when that barrier down on the side of traditional times are desperate, but too is broken today. In fact, the marriage we will rejoice. Howoften God’s people are not. eyebrow would be raised if ever, those pushing for this resomeone won a mile race in definition will not go away. Even Our nation may be about to over 4 minutes. if defeated this time, they will 4In 1969, Neil Armstrong not give it up. Here are some of change. The Word of God will was the first man to step onto my thoughts on this famous first: stand above that change and truth will still be truth. As in the surface of the moon. The technological advances that 4We must show more re- every generation, God will have were required to make this solve to stand for biblical witnesses that to that truth. Let’s famous first become reality truth than those favoring you and I be among them.
hen something is accomplished or established for the first time, there are usually huge implications that follow. Once the first domino falls, the others will fall behind it. Consider some famous firsts and their implications:
AFTER GIVING YOURSELF TO THE LORD, THEN IT IS TIME TO GIVE YOURSELF TO YOUR FAMILY (2 CORINTHIANS 8:5).
ended his 33-year career as assistant to the chief. He was a licensed funeral director.; he sold insurance; he started a security service in the 1960s when almost no one had that idea. After retirement from the City of Monroe he served as chief civil deputy for the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Department. He died while employed as chief of security at St. Francis Medical Center. While I was growing up, Dad would take off work to attend my baseball games. He sat with me in church. We fished together. His investment in my life was largely unnoticed until years later. When I reflect on what he had done in loving me, I’m ashamed I didn’t tell him more often how much I loved him. After I was saved and called to preach, dad provided funds to assist me in a church start. June and I planted a church among a largely unreached people group. He and Mom made a long trip once a month to encourage us. Later, Dad answered a call to be a bi-vocational music director. He supported his pastor. He witnessed to the lost. He lived a life that
honored the Lord. When Dad’s funeral service was held, the building overflowed as people stood in the foyer. I’m grateful for his love for Jesus. Because of Jesus, I will see him again. Some of you did not have that type of dad. I know I was greatly blessed. If you didn’t have that type of dad, you can be that type of dad. It starts with a relationship with Jesus. After giving yourself to the Lord, then it is time to give yourself to your family (2 Corinthians 8:5). Being the biblical husband means you are the spiritual leader in your home. It is not up to the wife to set the spiritual atmosphere in the home. Prayer and Bible study are a foundational element in marriage. It is difficult to navigate the waters of life. Doing so without God’s GPS, the Bible, often leaves people on the rocks. Children need to see a dad involved in every aspect of their lives (Ephesians 6:4). Attending ballgames, going to birthday parties, taking them on mission trips, basically living life with your children will let them see you love them. By the way, tell them you love them. Verbal reassurance is vital. If you are not a biological dad, you can practice Ephesians 6:4 in someone’s life who needs it. There was a time when “obeying” my parents ended. There will never be a time on this earth when “honoring” my parents will end. Give honor to the Heavenly Father by living out his Word. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
PASTOR PRAYER GATHERING AT HYDE PARK BAPTIST CHURCH IN AUSTIN
Pastors in the Austin area gathered to pray for spiritual awakening and revival at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, April 29. The event was hosted by Kie Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park, and Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock. Visit sbtexas.com/prayer for upcoming regional pastor prayer gatherings. PHOTO BY KATHERINE DRYE
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“As you go out into these units, rely on each other, support each other, but rely ultimately on God. You will be an inspiration to others. You will allow God to work through you to reach hundreds and thousands of others. “Before you know it, you will have peers in every one of our units across the state. Imagine the profound impact that God will have through you and others that follow you. I couldn’t be more proud of you.” Just before graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson gave a final charge to “his children” from Micah 6:8. Patterson pointed to the graduates’ academic achievements in the strenuous, 125-hour degree and said their education could be a “stepping stone to greatness,” Underclassmen in Southwestern Seminary’s Darrington seminary extension but it would only be so if they program celebrate as they watch a live video feed of the prison program’s first were “agents of mercy … (who) graduation ceremony, May 9. SWBTS PHOTO/MATT MILLER walk humbly with God.” “You have done a great deal CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 to educate the mind,” Patterson duce the ministries—and the prison system and rehabilitate in- from crimes. I’m going to make said, “but this program is a little radical changes—that have been mates. “But … nothing is more im- your case that in a few years, different, isn’t it? Because the witnessed in Darrington. The pressive and moving than to be a if you continue to turn people program has not just been about rest will remain at Darrington part of this program. … I’m a better around and behave like I know the mind; it’s been about the to mentor underclassemen in man, a better senator, and a better you will, work with the war- heart. And, oh, how you’ve done the program. Christian because I’m here partici- dens where you are sent, and so unbelievably [well]. I thank In a press conference, May pating in this program.” are responsible for your fami- God for every one of you today.” 7, Whitmire described the reWhitmire said the seminary lies, I’m going to continue to Brandon Warren, who has markable change in culture at program demonstrates that work in Austin and say, ‘Okay, served as the program’s adthe Darrington Unit over the Texas is “tough on crime” but the nature of the crime is impor- ministrative assistant from past four years as a result of also “smart on crime.” He told tant, but there are other factors. its beginning in 2011, is also a the program. “When we started graduates that he plans to use You’ve got to give my ministers Master of Divinity student at this, (Darrington) was one of their success in changing prison the chance after they’ve saved Southwestern’s Houston camour toughest, problematic units, culture to argue for changes in souls in other prisons to save pus. Warren is not unfamiliar and I’m here today to announce the state’s guidelines regarding souls on the streets of Houston.’” with prison, having served that it’s now one of our best.” consideration of parole, which Texas Department of Crimi- eight years at a different facility During the graduation, Whit- is largely based on the nature of nal Justice (TDJC) Executive before his release a number of mire, who has served in the Texas the crime committed. Director Brad Livingston chal- years ago. Like many of the men Senate for 30 years, recounted “I know up to this point that lenged graduates to take what in the Darrington program, he the history of the program. “I you are demonstrating that they have learned and apply it found faith in Christ while in have scores of programs that I’ve you are a good risk for soci- to the ministries they will have prison. Before serving at the worked in,” he said, citing drug ety,” Whitmire told graduates. in the prison. Darrington program, he wrote and alcohol programs, policies “You’re going to leave here and “What you’ve accomplished theologically rich corresponfor pregnant inmates and other minister at the other units and is extraordinary, but it’s just dence courses on basic Chrismajor initiatives to clean up the turn lives around and save lives the beginning,” Livingston said. tian doctrines for use in prisons
across the state. At Darrington, Warren oversees students’ coursework, grades papers, assists professors and serves as a liaison between the school and the prison. As a way to honor the men in the Darrington program, with whom he has built strong friendships, Warren delayed his graduation from Southwestern and received permission to receive his master’s degree at the prison graduation ceremony. As he walked across the stage, the chapel erupted in applause. Attended by state dignitaries, friends and family of the graduates, seminary faculty, and friends of the Heart of Texas Foundation, the graduation was a celebration of what many described as a miracle. The vision for such a program came from Grove Norwood, executive director of the Heart of Texas Foundation, who had experienced a similar program by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisiana’s Angola Prison. He gained the support of Senators Patrick and Whitmire, who visited Angola to see if it could be reproduced in Texas. Norwood and the Heart of Texas Foundation have been the primary fundraisers of the entirely privately funded program, which uses no tax payer dollars. The funds raised have gone to support educational materials, computers, books for the prison’s seminary library and other program needs. Other major contributors to the budget have been Southwestern Seminary and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, who initially gave a $116,200 grant in 2011 to provide library books, classroom furniture, technology and half of the ongoing costs for professors’ salaries and travel expenses for the first two years.
Gospel impact to continue beyond Darrington, inmate says By Keith Collier Managing Editor
ROSHARON Trent Lantzsch awoke from his drunken stupor to find himself laying on his cell floor, covered in his own vomit. Lantzsch, who had just completed his first semester in Southwestern Seminary’s bachelor’s program inside the maximum security Darrington Prison Unit, realized he had hit rock bottom and was potentially throwing away a great opportunity in receiving a free education. He also realized he wasn’t a Christian and needed the Lord. “When I got here, if you would have asked me, I would have said I was a Christian,” Lantzsch says. “But if you were to ask those around me, I’m sure they would have said no.” Lantzsch, who has served 17 years of a life sentence, saw the Darrington program as a free college education but had not let what he was learning change his life. “I’m taking the classes, I’m learning about who God is, about repentance
Watch an interview with Trent Lantzsch at youtu.be/HsKmyGmuMB8.
and what Christ has done for us. I know these things here [pointing to his head], but they haven’t touched here,” Lantzsch says, pointing to his heart. Laying on that cell floor, he says, “I realized that I can’t live life under my own authority, but I need God and I need forgiveness.”
So, he cried out to God and said, “I’ve thrown everything away. I keep messing up. I can’t do this. I need you. I need you.” His life was forever different. “From that point on,” Lantzsch says, “my life changed from just knowing who God is to having God inside me.” Immediately, he experienced a burning to desire to share his faith and he be-
gan doing so with other inmates. At the same time, the biblical studies coursework strengthened his faith and given him purpose in life. Taking what he has learned in the program, Lantzsch says. “I would like to teach new Christians—tell them about Christ, who he is and what he’s done for them—and walk them through the Bible, whether it be the Old Testament or the New Testament.” Upon graduation, Lantzsch will be one of the Darrington inmates who is transferred to another prison unit in Texas to assist the chaplain and to minister there. His goal is to “find a need and fill it,” and he hopes to have opportunities to teach. “So far, I’ve only seen it here at Darrington. I’ve seen an impact not just on the guys who are in the seminary but what they’re teaching the [general population] here at Darrington. And I’m anticipating it having that same affect at the units we go to. It’s not going to stop here.”
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HAVING LOST EVERYTHING, INMATE FINDS HOPE, MINISTRY IN THE GOSPEL By Keith Collier Managing Editor
“My story is one of loss.” This is how Roland Guerra, an inmate at the maximum security Darrington Prison Unit, describes his life before Christ. After making a series of poor, and criminal, decisions, he says he entered prison in a “really bad place.” Although he had heard about God’s goodness, Guerra felt his life experiences were telling a different story. He joined a Christian Bible study in prison in search for answers to his questions. “When I lost everything that was important to me, I became desperate … and had nowhere to turn,” Guerra recalls. One day, he opened his Bible up and randomly selected the book of Job, which tells the story of a man who lost everything. “I was so intrigued by his story, how Job lost everything, and how the Lord rewarded his faithfulness,” Guerra says. He was so drawn in by the book that he kept reading the Bible all the way through the book of Revelation and then started at the beginning in Genesis and read the rest of the Bible over the course of three months. While reading through the Gospel of Matthew one night, he got down on his knees in his cell and cried out to God to save him. His life was changed immediately, and he began witnessing and teaching the Bible to other inmates. Sometime later, Guerra was recommended by the prison chaplain to join the inaugural class ROSHARON
Fatherless inmate looks to introduce others to Heavenly Father By Keith Collier Managing Editor
ROSHARON Raised in a home without a father, Tracy Williams realizes it shaped his life in more ways than one. Although he attended church and made a profession of faith as a child, he struggled as a teenager to escape the patterns that characterized his father. “I never wanted to be like my father,” Williams says, “but as I got older, I began to take on his same ways, and as a result of not having any direction in life, … I graduated from high school, had two different women pregnant at the same time, and I decided I was going to go into the Air Force. …”
“I FEEL LIKE I’M A DISPENSER OF HOPE. GOD IS USING ME TO BRING HOPE TO THESE MEN WHO ARE LOCKED UP AND ISOLATED FROM THE REST OF [US].” —ROLAND GUERRA
of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergraduate program in biblical studies and was subsequently transferred to Darrington just before classes began. When Guerra entered the program, he committed himself to reading every word of his assignments. He has kept that commitment, excelling in his classes and holding one of the highest GPAs among the graduates. Recognizing an educated man is a tool for the Lord to use, he applies his schoolwork to the Bible studies he teaches and his counseling and mentoring of other inmates. “The seminary has showed us how to read the Bible; it’s taught us doctrine; it’s taught us the traditions and creeds; it’s taught us how to counsel biblically, how to preach, how to teach,” Guerra says. “We are equipped now to go out and serve.” Guerra has earned a reputation as a mediator and pastor in the prison, which opened the door for him to be one of a few students who is allowed to “tier walk.” Essentially, the warden has given them permission to go into parts of the prison such as solitary confinement, where
Watch a video interview with Roland Guerra at youtu.be/9_kiG3GJFVw.
they would otherwise be forbidden, to pray and read the Bible with some of the most troubled prisoners. “I feel like I’m a dispenser of hope,” Guerra says. “God is using me to bring hope to these men who are locked up and isolated from the rest of [us].” As a result of the seminary program, Guerra says the atmosphere in the prison has changed. “It’s not the same as when we first got here,” he says. Guerra, who is serving a 30-year aggravated sentence, says he’s seen a reduction in violence and stronger character development within the general population. Even better, he says, more inmates are talking about Jesus. Shortly after the seminary program started, one of the students started
Watch a video interview with Tracy Williams at youtu.be/u4C94b5I42E.
However, before he was even sworn in, police arrested him for robbery and he was given a lengthy prison sentence. That was 20 years ago. Once in prison, Williams turned back to God, reading and studying his Bible for the first time. He eventually grew in his walk with the Lord and started teaching Bible studies to other inmates. Always being one who enjoyed learning, he earned two associates degrees from a local community college before hearing about Southwestern Seminary’s new bachelor’s program inside the maximum security Darrington Prison Unit. He applied and was transferred to Darrington in 2011 to join 39 other inmates as the program’s inaugural class. “The program is beyond what I thought it would be,” Williams says.
“All the different aspects of learning— history, worldviews, philosophy, even politics—make us more well-rounded [people]. Being a more well-rounded Christian will help when we combat different worldviews of other [inmates].” When Williams and his classmates arrived at Darrington, other inmates were initially skeptical, waiting to see if these students were genuine. Eventually, they began to see the ongoing impact the program would have on the general population. “The impact has been gradual,” Williams says, “but because of the seminary, the conversations about God are more lively. People want to know different doctrines or different things about God. They are interested in knowing about God.” Williams, who enjoys writing plays and leads the prison drama team, has produced
a ministry called Makarios, which comes from the Greek word meaning “blessed.” Makarios groups gather throughout the unit each week for discipleship and evangelism. Guerra and other students hope to take this ministry model with them in the coming months as they’re transferred to other maximum security prisons in Texas in groups of four to five to assist chaplains, minister and counsel in those units. “In prison, there are a multitude of theologies,” Guerra says, noting that inmates often have pieced together their own belief system from a “hodgepodge” of religions. “That’s why we want to preach the gospel. We believe the gospel is the answer to all of life’s problems.”
a number of shows, which draw capacity crowds. In each show, Williams works the gospel message into the storyline, often hitting on the topic of fatherlessness, which most inmates have experienced on a personal level. As a result, chapel worship attendance has increased. Today, Bible studies take place across the unit, and the atmosphere of the prison has changed dramatically. The state’s and seminary’s plan from the beginning of the program four years ago has been to send out groups of graduates to other prison units across the state to assist chaplains and minister to inmates with the hope that the entire system will experience similar changes. Although he wanted to be one of those sent out, Williams has been selected as one of a group of students who will be staying at Darrington to assist professors and mentor students in the program. “Wherever I’m at, I just want God to use me and for him to be glorified,” Williams says. “Staying back, mentoring, and helping out here to continue to establish this and get this off the ground, that would be an honor. “As a result of this program, as people have poured into us, now we as believers and men of God can impact other men’s lives, especially those that are going back out into society. … As field ministers, we can go out and show these young men love and teach them and show them there is a better way.”
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FBC VAN FAMILIES LOSE HOMES IN TORNADO, CHURCH OPENS DOORS TO COMMUNITY By Jane Rodgers TEXAN Correspondent VAN, Texas First Baptist Church of Van Pastor Tom Campbell knew a tornado warning had been issued but learned that his town had been hit by an EF-3 tornado Sunday night, May 10, via calls and text messages from Dallas friends. He would soon discover that a neighborhood that was home to five FBC families had been devastated. Youth minister Kenneth Meadows was driving to FBC in response to a call from the alarm company when he learned of the devastation and phoned Campbell, who started for the church immediately from his home five miles east of town. Campbell’s progress was stalled by a traffic jam on Interstate 20 caused by an 18-wheeler overturned by the tornado. “It was raining and pitch black, with the electricity out. Trees were down everywhere. By the time I got to the church, the east side of the parking lot was filled with emergency vehicles and hundreds seeking shelter. It had been turned into
a triage area,” Campbell said. A deacon had opened the church for use by local first responders. “We contacted the Red Cross to offer our church facilities,” said Campbell, whose experience as a pastor during Hurricane Rita confirmed the importance of emergency management help. “We had no formal agreement with the Red Cross, but we do now,” Campbell said. “Our facilities are among the best places for people to go. We have a nice-sized gym and kitchen.” Some 50 cots have been set up at FBC Van. The church is also housing SBTC DR volunteers. “The storm came so quickly that people barely had time to react, to get into a coat closet or wherever,” Campbell said. Two FBC Van families whose homes were destroyed lived across from each other on Washington St. Their survival is nothing short of miraculous as all came through the tornado uninjured. Only a single interior wall remained of the home of FBC Van’s Robby and Amy Parish and their two elementary
aged-children. The family huddled in an interior closet, opening the door after the tornado passed to find their home gone. Robby Parish, a Van ISD coach, outside observing the devastation of his own home, heard shouts from across the street. Parish and neighbors ran to assist Ken and Donna Strom, a retired couple from FBC Van trapped in their home by debris. Only one interior wall of the Strom home re-
A tornado moved this Van, Texas, house off of its foundation, with the family huddled inside, and stopped it against a tree. PHOTO BY ANDREW PEARLE
mained. They, too, had sought refuge in an interior closet. “Both families picked the only spot they could have picked and remained safe,” Campbell said. Somehow, neighbors managed to find Amy Parish’s wedding ring set amidst the rubble. “It is a miracle that we don’t have more fatalities,” Campbell
said, noting that one-third of Van was affected and current estimates place damages in the $40 million range. Campbell praised the closeknit Van community and the Red Cross, SBTC DR and other volunteers for the “outpouring” of help. “People, food, clothing, bottled water, the response has been tremendous.”
SBTC DR volunteers assist East Texas tornado victims By Jane Rodgers TEXAN Correspondent VAN, Texas Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers deployed to Van, Texas, on Monday, May 11, in response to the EF-3 tornado that swept through the East Texas town the evening of May 10, Mother’s Day Sunday, killing two, destroying homes and severely damaging J.E. Rhodes Elementary School. The National Weather Service reported Monday that winds from the tornado reached 135-140 miles per hour. SBTC DR personnel set up a joint command center with Texas Baptist Men at First Baptist Church of Van, said George Yarger, SBTC white hat, or incident commander. “We have 24 SBTC volunteers on site, including two chainsaw crews, clean up and recovery teams, three chaplains/assessors and operations staff,” Yarger, pastor of Harbor Baptist Church in Payne Springs, confirmed. The SBTC brought a shower trailer, skid steer and mule.
Most work has involved debris removal, Yarger said. A chainsaw team led by Jim Howard removed a large tree from the roof of a home. SBTC DR volunteers are housed at First Baptist Church of Van, which has become an emergency center for the Red Cross and other groups, according to Tom Campbell, FBC Van pastor. The tornado damaged or destroyed the homes of five families from FBC Van who lived in a small housing area north of Bois d’Arc St. adjacent to the damaged elementary school. Law enforcement officials restricted access to the affected neighborhood on Monday, but when Yarger, Campbell and SBTC assessors approached the first check point, the official on duty exclaimed, “Oh good, here come the Baptists!” and allowed them to enter. “The fire department was in search and rescue
Ken and Donna Strom, a retired couple from FBC Van, were trapped in their home by debris from a tornado. Only one interior wall of the Strom home remained. PHOTO BY ANDREW PEARLE
mode, but they waved us on through,” Yarger noted. “Pastor Campbell was able to find and talk to most of his church members.” The team also talked to other victims. The tornado lifted one family’s wood frame home completely off its foundation, Yarger said. “The tornado moved the house 20 feet
on one side and 10 on another, stopping it against a tree.” The family was inside during the tornado. “The kids were in their bedrooms and when the sirens went off, they moved the kids into the middle of the house, where they would be surrounded by walls. Those bedrooms were gone. The family is pretty sure the children would
have perished had they stayed in their rooms,” Yarger said. Just as Yarger and team were “marveling” at the damaged home, the door opened and out walked the family. “The mother broke down. She was crying and saying, ‘I want to go home. I just want to go home. We talked to her about a home in heaven and asked where she was in Christ,” Yarger recalled. “She assured us that she had met Christ more than a decade ago and that she was certain God was with them during the tornado. We prayed with them for encouragement and comfort. I checked on them Tuesday, and they were doing better.” DR workers have seen 14 people make professions of faith in Van so far as a result of their witness. “We need prayer more than anything,” Van Zandt County fire marshal and emergency management coordinator Chuck Allen said in a news conference, expressing appreciation for the outpouring of help from outside. “Give us a few weeks, and we’ll be right back on track,” Van mayor Dean Stone said in the news conference.
IMB TRUSTEES ALTER POLICIES RELATING TO BAPTISM, TONGUES AND DIVORCE By David Roach Baptist Press RICHMOND, Va. The International Mission Board’s new policy on missionary qualifications—replacing previous restrictions related to baptism, speaking in tongues and divorce among other matters— represents an effort to keep basic requirements from going beyond the Baptist Faith and Message, IMB President David Platt told reporters May 14. “We want it to be simple and clear that what’s driving us doctrinally is what all these churches [of the Southern Baptist Convention] have agreed on in the Baptist Faith and Message,” Platt said during an hour-long telephone press conference. “... We’re tethering ourselves to the Baptist Faith and Message, and we tethered ourselves to it in such a way that if the Southern Baptist Convention were to edit or adjust the Baptist Faith and Message a year from now or two years from now or whenever, then that would adjust the way we work.” Approved during a May 1213 IMB trustee meeting in Louisville, Ky., the new policy is one component of an effort to open “new pathways” of missionary service overseas for students, professionals, retirees and others and establish a single set of preliminary qualifications for all categories of missionaries, Platt said. Trustees and staff will establish additional requirements for specific categories of IMB overseas personnel, he said. New pathways of missionary service have not been established yet but are expected to be announced in the months ahead, Platt said. Subsequent to the press conference, IMB spokeswoman Wendy Norvelle told Baptist Press trustees have yet to determine the preferred funding mechanism for new pathways of missionary service. She added, however, that the IMB encourages churches to give through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified method of funding missions and ministries in North America and across the globe. Previous policies “were put in place at various times for good reasons,” Platt said, but needed revision given the demands of fulfilling the Great Commission today. He commented on several specific changes related to hot-button issues: 4“Under [the newly adopted] 200-1, a divorce is not an automatic disqualifier for long-term service with the IMB as it was under the old policy,” Platt said.
The marital history of all missionary candidates still will be examined. However, the circumstances of a divorce will now be considered along with the view of the prospective missionary’s host culture regarding divorce and the candidate’s potential role on a missionary team, Platt said. Requirements regarding divorce may need to differ for lead church planters and support personnel, he said. Previously, divorced persons were disqualified from service as career and apprentice missionaries. 4The only baptism requirements under the new policy are that a missionary be “a baptized member of a Southern Baptist church” and possess a “conviction of truth as expressed in the current Baptist Faith and Message statement of the Southern Baptist Convention.” The BF&M, Article VII, defines baptism as “the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.” Article VII adds that baptism is “prerequisite” to church membership and the Lord’s Supper. IMB missionaries, Platt said, “are going to believe and function and practice and live in accordance with” the BF&M. Previously, IMB policy 200-16 stated: “Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.” The policy applied to all missionaries at all levels of service. 4The previous policy on tongues and private prayer languages “went beyond some of the language in the Baptist Faith and Message,” Platt said. The BF&M makes no mention of either issue. Policy 200-1 also does not mention speaking in tongues or using a private prayer language, but Platt said the IMB Field Personnel Manual allows a missionary to be terminated for disruptive emphasis on any specific spiritual gift as normative for all Christians. He stressed his opposition to excesses of the charismatic movement. “I have seen and confronted the dangers of the charismatic movement and the error that has in so many ways undercut the authority of God’s Word,” Platt said. “... I want to make sure that we are faithfully representing Southern Baptist
churches and convictions at every point.” Previously, IMB policy defined the gift of tongues as speaking “a legitimate language” and disqualified from service all missionary candidates who used an unintelligible language in worship or practiced glossolalia in worship without following the New Testament guidelines. Using an “ecstatic utterance as a prayer language” disqualified a candidate from service. 4Families with teenage children are eligible to serve under policy 200-1 and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Platt said, noting some mission fields are suitable for families with teenagers while others are not. A previous policy stated that couples with children 12 and older would be eligible for service only after specific criteria were met, including psychological or psychiatric evaluations of the children. “What we’re trying to do is move away from a one size fits all,” Platt said in response to questions about educational requirements for missionaries. “If somebody is a lead church planter, there will be seminary qualifications for that—absolutely.” However, he added, “It’s not going to be the same bar for the IT (information technology) expert in London who is serving under the leadership of a church planter.” Platt added, “That doesn’t mean the IT expert in London doesn’t need to know anything about Scripture, theology or missiology. We want to match what he needs to be doing there and do that with different positions and different pathways. Without question we will still have educational requirements for different people in different roles.” Asked about policies governing alcohol use, Platt said trustee-approved policy did not previously and does not currently disqualify from service candidates who drink alcohol. Yet the Field Personnel Manual requires all missionaries to abstain from alcohol following their appointment. Platt cited policies on alcohol as a model for how other debated issues might be handled in the future. “The only way to address some of these issues is not a policy that’s a disqualifier on the front end,” Platt said. “People know. It’s not like we’re hiding any of what we believe about these issues. But we are saying, ‘OK, they’re not automatically disqualifiers on the front end, but it’s clear, as an IMB missionary, that we abstain from alcohol.’” Making adherence to the BF&M the baseline require-
IMB President David Platt addresses trustees during their plenary session May 13 in Louisville, Ky. Platt announced a policy to streamline guidelines for appointing new personnel within the framework of the Baptist Faith & Message. PHOTO BY PAUL W. LEE / IMB
ment for missionary service represents an attempt to ease initial restrictions on qualified Southern Baptists who feel called to take the gospel to the nations. Trustees “see that there are some issues we must address as the IMB,” Platt said. “Our pipeline has been small and tough to get through in different ways that we could open up and free [up].” Regarding prospective missionaries who were prevented from serving under the old policies, Platt said, “The door is open for them to explore serving with the IMB.” Platt asked Southern Baptists to pray for wisdom among IMB leaders as they seek to increase the number of missionaries despite limited funds. “Even before this, we were turning away Southern Baptist church members who were qualified to serve as missionaries—even under our old qualifications,” Platt said. “All the more under our new qualifications. “Some would say, ‘Then why open up the pathway if you’ve already got kind of a backlog?’ Well, I don’t want to continue to say no to qualified members of Southern Baptist churches,” Platt said. Platt told reporters that trustees “agreed to disagree on some things” related to the changes, while working together with a spirit of unity. Half of the dozen Texas trustees were present for the meeting, including Geronimo Disla of Bedford, John Meador of Euless, Nathan Lorick of Fort Worth, John Mann of Springtown, Byron McWilliams of Odessa and June Richards of Keller. With IMB administration instructing trustees to refer media inquiries to the Richmond office, most trustees declined any comment, though both Disla and Meador said they voted for the changes. McWilliams, who chairs the strategy committee, told the
TEXAN that the board spent more than seven hours walking through the changes piece by piece with multiple conference calls that allowed questions to be asked of staff. “I expressed my feelings fully regarding the proposed changes,” he said, adding that he “challenged numerous areas.” Called back at a later date, McWilliams said, “They were receptive to recommendations and sought to present a document that most trustees could readily agree with.” Ultimately, McWilliams said, “there were certain changes made which some trustees wish had not been made, but when the vote was taken the majority of the board overwhelmingly supported the proposal.” Meador learned that only 10 of the 66 trustees present voted against the measure, a number he said “was not polarizing.” “It streamlines the process but leaves trustees as those who can assess the qualifications of missionaries,” he stated, describing the changes as part of a larger package that “elevated the Baptist Faith and Message as the key qualification.” Calling it “a monumental task,” Mann said the executive administration and the board’s executive committee “committed to find a way to increase missionary presence in an ongoing, financially difficult time.” “The trustees have been assured that the removal of these policies [on baptism, private prayer language, divorce and teenage children on the field] would open the door to a greater number of candidates while providing a more substantial means of funding, without weakening our ecclesiology or compromising our Baptist identity,” Mann said. “I pray they are correct.” —Tammi Reed Ledbetter contributed to this report. Visit imb.org to see text of the new policy and further commentary from Platt.
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‘AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY’ SUPPORTED BY SCRIPTURE By Erin Roach TEXAN Correspondent GRAPEVINE The “age of accountability” is one of the least understood historic Baptist beliefs, Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), said. “All three Baptist Faith and Message statements (1925, 1963, and 2000) assert that children are not morally accountable until ‘they are capable of moral action’ (Baptist Faith and Message, Article 3),” Lemke wrote in an article on the age of accountability that first appeared in the Louisiana Baptist Message in 2010. Since children mature at different rates, it is difficult to establish a specific age at which they become morally accountable, he wrote. “It is therefore more accurate to speak of a ‘state’ of being accountable rather than an ‘age’ of accountability,” Lemke, also a professor of philosophy and ethics at NOBTS, wrote, adding that a state of accountability is normally associated with a coming of age “sometime in adolescence.”
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all their heart, all their soul, all their might and all their strength,” she reminded. “They also need to learn to love others as they love themselves.” Recognizing that children are born with unique personalities and giftedness, Iorg said, “They’re not born with knowledge or a complete sense of values. Those things are taught, and that’s when we come into play.” By starting with the big picture of loving God and loving others, she said even a two-year old can learn these basic concepts. “Start with the simple and then expand,” she stated. “If you don’t give them a framework from which to attach these truths, they have a hard time putting in the extra facts later.” From Proverbs 22:6 parents find encouragement in knowing these foundational principles will continue to influence their
“THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY TEACHES—THAT WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF OTHERS, BUT FOR OUR OWN SINS WHEN WE REACH THE AGE THAT WE ARE MORALLY AWARE AND MORALLY RESPONSIBLE.” —STEVE LEMKE, PROVOST AT NEW ORLEANS BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Perhaps the best biblical support for the age of accountability, Lemke wrote, is found in Jeremiah 31:29-30 and the parallel passage in Ezekiel 18:14-21. The texts, he wrote, make clear that children will “not suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity,” but rather “each one will die for his own wrongdoing.” “This is precisely what the age of accountability teaches—that we are not responsible for the sins of others, but for our own
sins when we reach the age that we are morally aware and morally responsible,” Lemke wrote. In every New Testament case of baptism, Lemke noted, it is adults who come to faith in Christ. “Evidently, then, moral accountability and salvation by faith are applicable only for those who are capable of moral discernment,” he wrote.
children, she said. “The things we learn as children stay with us for life, and there is the constant reminder to do the right thing. It’s the truth that stays with us.” Parents and other people who care for a child on a consistent basis have the credibility to be trusted. “A little child doesn’t care how much money you have, what position you have or how many degrees you have. They only care about one thing: Does this person care about me and help me find Jesus? If not, I don’t have any reason to listen.” Iorg pointed to the testimony of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-15 as an example of parents and grandparents developing a child spiritually. “Paul recognized the significant influence that the mother and grandmother had on Timothy as a child in giving the wisdom for salvation and what you need to know to come to know Christ.” Made in the image of God with the capacity to relate to him, Iorg said even preschoolers can learn and recognize objects like the Bible. She pointed to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to illustrate teaching them to love and relate to God through everyday activities. “Long before anybody thought to study child development, those principles were already taught in Scripture,” Iorg said, pointing to the instruction to learn through activity, verbal instruction, visual signs and written words. “Take whatever
is happening and bring God into it to help the child see him.” Short family devotions should model how a child eventually has a personal time with God, Iorg said. “A little preschooler can’t do that so you need to model that for them so they know what to do when they’re older,” she explained. “Keep it short because if it’s too long they won’t do it and they won’t stay interested.” Spiritual development should be reinforced in a local church setting, Iorg continued. Parents can also be taught how to do the primary teaching at home. Developmentally appropriate curriculum is particularly important for Bible study offered at church, she said. Referring to a chart outlining 10 “Levels of Biblical Learning” developed by LifeWay Christian Resources, Iorg said a good curriculum will give a child a well-rounded theology. “It’s easy to neglect one area if you don’t have a plan,” she added, explaining how LifeWay curriculum offers a comprehensive approach over the course of two to four years. As parents and teachers help a child to follow God, Iorg said it is important to recognize that only God can offer salvation. “We can help the child know that God speaks to them and encourage them to respond to God,” she said, pointing to the example of Eli in helping Samuel go and listen to what God was telling him.
Baptists have never believed, Lemke wrote, that a person could be saved by physical birth or by the faith of his parents. “Each person must make a personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in order to be saved,” Lemke wrote. “... Baptists do believe that we children of Adam ‘inherit
“YOU CANNOT THINK THAT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR CHILD THE REST OF HIS LIFE. YOU GET HIM PREPARED FOR WHAT GOD HAS FOR HIS LIFE.” —ANN IORG
“You cannot think that you can control your child the rest of his life. You get him prepared for what God has for his life.” Teaching a child to respectfully follow adults prepares him to learn how to follow God, she explained. “We are careful to instruct them about God and guide them to him, but not try and be God for them. They must have their own relationship with God and follow him on their own.” Preschoolers should be encouraged to continue learning about God even when they’re not really ready to respond to God, Iorg said. She recommended Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Taylor as a means of asking young children about a Bible story in order to find out what they’re thinking. “We think it’s so important to tell our kids things but forget to listen to find out how they’re processing it.”
a nature and an environment inclined toward sin,’ but it is not until we become ‘transgressors’ ourselves that we come under guilt and condemnation (Baptist Faith and Message, Article 3),” Lemke wrote. “So while we believe in an inherited sin nature, we do not believe in inherited guilt.”
As children grow older and come under conviction for the sin in their lives, they are likely to ask a lot of questions, Iorg said. “They may be disobedient as they struggle with their sin and their need for God,” even ignoring or disagreeing with the parent for a short time. “Children are ready to decide to follow God when they show a genuine sadness about their bad choices and are consistent in their desire to decide to follow God,” she added. “Little kids often will say, ‘We believe in God, don’t we Daddy? We love Jesus, don’t we Mommy?’” as a means of tagging onto the parent’s faith. “When they get ready to receive Christ they say, ‘I believe,’” she explained. “Notice the pronoun change. That will give you a clue that it’s a personal decision for Christ.” Through careful follow-up, a parent can interact with the child to determine whether a decision represents a genuine conversion. Iorg recommended LifeWay’s I’m a Christian, Now What? as a resource for careful discussion. Spiritual development in young children also includes teaching them to love others, Iorg reminded. “We mentor children as we teach them how to follow God. We give them opportunities to serve with our support until they are old enough to serve God and others on their own.”
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THOROUGH NEW BELIEVERS’ CLASS FOR KIDS IS ESSENTIAL, SAY TEXAS CHILDREN’S MINISTERS
By Sharayah Colter Staff Writer
For a myriad of reasons, a substantial number of Christian adults who grew up in late 20th century America professed Christ as Lord at a young age. Some remember it, and some do not. Some moved forward assured of their salvation. Some began to doubt whether they had truly been saved at all. Photographs from a baptism and assurance from parents often added to the confusion many felt as they tried to discern whether they had truly made an eternal decision for Christ or not. Fifteen years into a fresh century, the generation that spent a portion of their adolescence wrestling with the scary thought that they might not be saved is looking for ways to make sure their children have a different come-to-faith experience. They’ve realized the line between prematurely urging a child toward salvation and hindering a child’s genuine desire to know Jesus is thin and often blurry. Churches and pastors have realized this, too, and make concerted efforts to help parents guide their children to a true relationship with Christ that will spur them on into spiritual maturity instead of into a false security that stunts their children a few years later. Children’s ministers from four churches offered the TEXAN a look into how they navigate adding children to church membership rolls and how they guide those children through understanding, receiving and professing salvation in Christ. All of them agreed that parents play a pivotal role in preparing their children for a profession of faith and then discipling them in that faith.
Jamie Brooks, children’s pastor at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, said that instead of offering a traditional class directed by church leadership in response to a child’s interest in following Christ, they equip and support parents and guardians for that role. He said that the church currently uses Next Step for Kids (NSfK), produced by Harvest Children’s Ministry, to guide families as they escort children toward a commitment to Jesus. The curriculum discusses being a new believer and being involved in the church family. Brooks said it also opens the door to conversations about baptism, serving, witnessing, other religions and other topics. “We communicate to parents that this is not a checklist for salvation in their children,” Brooks said. “It is, however, a great tool to see if a love for the things of the Lord is developing out of a response to accepting Him as savior and king,” Brooks said. “For children in need of a spiritual leader to fill this role, we will partner a committed and qualified mentor with them. In addition to NSfK, we have a guide to lead parents through conversations about the purpose of the church, the qualifications for membership and the expectations accompanying membership.” Brooks said while some children have already accepted Christ when they join the church with their families, the majority of children become members by profession of faith. Brooks says the church takes seriously its role of making certain that new members—no matter their age—understand what it truly means to follow Christ and to live for him.
“For a child coming to us as a professing Christian, it is important that we hear his/her testimony from the parents and the child,” Brooks said. “As pastors, we hold the responsibility of church membership gravely, and therefore hold even children to the standard of verbal/ written testimony and life fruit. In these conversations, we are affirming the biblical truth that church membership follows a faith commitment proclaimed through baptism. In all of these conversations we have with children, we want to proclaim that church membership, baptism, communion, etc. is the outflow of a personal response to Christ’s lordship and not the process to achieve salvation.” Brooks meets with families while they work through the NSfK curriculum, listening for children to be able to express why they need to be saved, how they are saved and what it means to trust and follow Jesus as king. Only when a child can clearly articulate those things can he or she be baptized. Jeffie Burns, children’s ministry director at Harmony Hill Baptist Church in Lufkin, said baptism follows a children’s new believers class at their church as well. “We require one parent/ guardian/grandparent to attend the class with the child, and then they have to come in and speak with me or the family life pastor before baptism is scheduled,” Burns said. “In the past, so many people say, ‘I was saved and/or baptized as a child but I didn’t understand.’ We don’t want that to happen, so we have this process to know that we know.” Burns said that during the class they talk with parents and children about what salvation and baptism mean, being
careful to make sure that the children do not associate the act of being baptized with actual salvation from sin. In addition to the class, the church saw a need to produce take-home information that parents can use with their children to make sure they fully understand the decision before making it. The curriculum they produced includes the gospel, the ABCs of salvation, information about baptism and a family discussion guide. The class, Burns said, gives parents the confidence to work through their child’s desire to be saved and baptized. “I think parents really want the opportunity to lead their child to Christ,” Burns said. “They just are scared. They think there is a ‘special’ thing they have to say or do. This class, we feel, makes them more relaxed about talking to their kids about salvation and baptism. We always try to make sure we are equipping parents; they make the difference!”
“WE MUST HELP PARENTS BE INVOLVED IN THE SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF THEIR KIDS. THEY ARE THE PRIMARY TEACHERS FOR THEIR KIDS, AND WE ARE TO EQUIP THEM FOR SUCCESS.” —CHRIS GARY, MINISTER TO CHILDREN AT CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH IN COLLEGE STATION
Chris Gary, minister to children at Central Baptist Church in College Station, agrees that parents often shy away from helping their children in this arena out of fear. “Parents are scared to death of messing up their kids, so they tend not to have these conversations with their kids or push them to the church,” Gary said. “We must help parents be involved in the spiritual growth of their kids. They are the primary teachers for their kids, and we are to equip them for success.” At Central, that equipping comes by way of a two-step approach. “Any child that makes a decision meets with our senior pastor and is given a Survival Kit for Kids to work on with their parents,” Gary said. “After they finish it they meet again with the senior pastor to go over it. When they leave that meeting, my office gives them another devotional book, Passing the Baton.
Gary said that if a church is currently without a new members plan for children and wants to begin a class, he would suggest using the Survival Kit for Kids content (available through LifeWay), which his church uses in one-on-one settings with families, as the material for a six-week class. Working one-on-one with families, he said, allows his church to be flexible about the age at which a child can begin the process of professing faith and being baptized. Brooks said MacArthur Boulevard’s family-driven and paced process allows them the same flexibility. At Harmony Hill, the church asks that children not be baptized before the third grade, though some exceptions have been made. Whatever direction a church decides to go, Gary said, some sort of training and equipping for children is essential. “If you are not discipling them,” Gary said, “then you are not helping a child get a good foundation as they begin their walk with Jesus.” Cedar Hill’s Hillcrest Baptist Church minister to children Keri Meek said discipling children has often led to reaching parents at her church. She said her favorite part of Hillcrest’s four-week class for newly believing children is week one where, after a time of breakfast and fellowship, the children go with teachers to the Kid Faith room and the parents remain with her. “We sit in a circle and begin what I feel is the sweetest time of fellowship with these parents,” Meek said. “I start the time off with telling them a little about me and my family— how long we have been at the church, when I became a Christian, how I continue to grow in my faith. I then ask each parent to share the same. It has been a huge eye opener to me that we have many parents who were not raised in a Christian home and are so eager to know how to raise their child up with a biblical worldview. There have also been instances where a parent shares that they have never been baptized but through hearing everyone share they realize they need to be baptized too.” And sometimes, this first week of discipleship with the children even leads to the salvation of a mom, dad, grandparent or guardian—stories that Meeks says become her “very favorite.” “God is using this time with these parents to draw them to him,” Meek said. “I am able then to meet with that parent and share the gospel with them and lead them to their Savior.”
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BAPTISM AND SMALL CHILDREN Nathan Lino
Pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church
arents, guardians, and grandparents: a word of advice regarding small children and New Testament baptism: proceed with caution. They only get to do it once; make it count. Maybe this post is even more so for parents who were raised in the church in America’s Bible Belt. In the 1970s–1990s, there was a numbers-driven contest among churches for converts and baptisms. I don’t mean that to sound harsh; I honestly believe it was nobly intended. After all, we do want to make disciples of as many people as possible. I also don’t mean to say the salvations were not legitimate; I think a good number were. Nonetheless, the church culture of the time bred a constant pressure to get more numbers. The trickledown effect was parents pressuring their young children to walk the aisle to get saved and baptized. Though the preacher, dad, and mom were sure excited, the child’s heart was not yet broken by the gospel, yet from that point on the child’s spiritual leaders repeatedly assured the child of his salvation. Those children are now the parents raising children in our churches, and many feel this internal tension due to their personal experience. “If my children
IT IS OK FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO GIVE THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST AT A YOUNGER AGE AND THEN WAIT TO BE BAPTIZED UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP.
don’t get saved and baptized at a young age, people will think I’m a bad parent; however, I don’t want my children to experience what I experienced.” What I’m about to say is not an issue of right vs. wrong but rather some thoughts about what is good vs. best. So, if your child was baptized at a young age, say six or seven, that’s great. He went through New Testament baptism. Praise the Lord. I’m just pointing out that there are some benefits to waiting until children are a little older. 1. It is OK for your children to give their lives to Christ at a younger age and then wait to be baptized under your leadership. 2. They only get to do this once, so it will be helpful for them to get baptized when they are old enough to remember it for the rest of their lives. I know you have a video camera that will produce a video they can watch for the rest of her lives, but there is a difference between remembering a video of one’s baptism and remembering one’s baptism.
3. Your children do not have to have a full understanding of the significance of baptism before they are baptized, but how good it would be for them to have a spiritual sense of awe and wonder about the moment. The moment will be so much richer for them if they know they are undertaking a public pledge of allegiance to their king. 4. Your ultimate affirmation to them that they are born again is that you green light their baptism. Once you do that, you have told them in no uncertain terms they are Christians. Does a 6-year-old really know what it means to make a lifelong commitment to surrender to King Jesus? True, I’m 38 years old and I still don’t have a full understanding of what it means to make a lifelong commitment to surrender to King Jesus. However, I do think pre-teens or teenagers have had their faith tested in the public square enough to realize there is a cost to discipleship; therefore, they can more fully decide if they truly want to surrender themselves to Christ. I’d urge parents to wait until there is evidence of surrender, godly sorrow over sin, and growing interest in the things of the Lord over time, before you green light baptism. 5. Make sure your church double-checks your child’s salvation for you. This is wise
and good and right. The local church is given to you to affirm your salvation … or to say, hey, we know you think you are born again, but we love you too much not to tell
you we don’t see evidence of salvation in you. I mean, if the church can’t tell you, who can? (That isn’t wrongful judging by the way—the local church is your highest human authority in this world, see Matthew 18:17-20). The local church to which I belong has significant authority from Christ to exercise authority in my life. One example is that my local congregation has the authority from Christ to evaluate my salvation, and that of my family, against biblical evidences of salvation. This is God’s grace to me because then my local congregation can either affirm I am born again or express strong warnings to me that I am not, so that when I stand before Christ one day, I will not be one of the MANY in that day who will say, “Lord, Lord” and yet be
turned away from the gates of heaven. So, my advice is that as soon as your child expresses a desire for salvation, enlist your local church to assist you in the process and certainly, before you declare your child saved, let your local church double-check for you. Finally, a word from my personal life. Every time our children have expressed a desire for salvation, my wife and I have worked with them over time and then, when we thought they had surrendered to Christ, we left them with a trusted, godly church leader, one-on-one, to spend time with them, talk to them, etc., to double-check for us. After following that process, we believe our three oldest children are born again. They are 11, 9 and 7. None of them have been baptized. I came to faith as a young child. I was baptized when I was 11 or 12. I can clearly remember the baptistery, the preacher, what he said, and what I said. I can recall feeling the spiritual significance of the moment. It was a defining moment in my life, like my wedding day was. One of the things for which I’m most grateful in my spiritual development is that my parents waited on my baptism until I was truly ready. Nathan Lino pastors Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble. This article first appeared at pastor.nehbc.com.
Preparation helps in teaching children to worship Diana Davis Fresh Ideas
sat behind a cute little boy in worship last Sunday. He was wearing stylish headphones and intently played game after game of Angry Birds on his smartphone. For the entire hour, he never even looked up. An older girl nearby was sprawled out napping on the pew. Both children’s parents were engaged in worship, yet they missed the opportunity to help their kids worship God. Christian parent, are you intentional about engaging your child in true worship? As soon as he’s past nursery age, you have the privilege of training up your child to enjoy worship services. Try these fresh ideas: Commit to God today that you’ll prepare, pray and persist in teaching your child.
Talk about the worship service during the week. Worship is a delight for Christians, not drudgery. Your enthusiasm and sincere anticipation of Sunday worship is contagious. Create a church bag to hold a children’s Bible (with pictures if possible), a journal book and a pen or markers. Prepare well on Saturday. Lay out your child’s clothes, find both shoes, be sure there’s food for breakfast, and intentionally get a good night’s rest. As you drive to church, show excitement. Chat about why we go to church and what you hope God will do in your own heart today. Be ready for worship. Arrive early enough to take your child to the restroom just before church. For a very rare emergency, personally escort her, and return to a rear seat. Allow your child to get his own worship bulletin. Glance at it to explain special happenings today. If your church pro-
vides a kids’ bulletin, help your child use it. Be seated before worship begins, selecting a seat near the front so your child can see and participate well. Teach your child to joyfully participate in every aspect of worship. As you model how to worship God, he’ll catch that same awe. Help him stand or sit at appropriate times, sing the songs, bow his head and close his eyes during prayer. Teach him to make eye contact, shake hands and visit during greeting time. Let him give an offering and pass the plate. Open the Bible or hymnal and follow the words with your finger, even if he can’t yet read them. Instead of playing, napping or lounging, he’ll be learning to worship God. Once the sermon begins, the child can get her church bag for “note-taking.” Help her to sit facing the front to avoid distracting others. As you take sermon notes or fill in a bul-
letin outline, help your child learn to listen and write. Use age-appropriate ideas to focus on God. A young child may simply draw words the pastor says. You could select a key word from the sermon topic, such as Jesus, and she could write hash marks to count the number of times it was said. As reading skills improve, she may write words from the focal Scripture or take sermon notes. One mom cuts out cardboard hearts for her children to write or draw what they learn about God each Sunday. Keep those journals or hearts as mementos. You want your church to enjoy your child as much as your child enjoys church. Teach respect for God’s house, and pay attention to your child’s activity. Never allow him to be unruly or destructive. For example, in most churches, children shouldn’t play on the platform, where fragile equipment, instruments and cords exist.
Help your child to know the pastor, shaking his hand or speaking to him on Sundays. Encourage her to visit with kids and adults after worship. On the drive home, talk about the worship service. Kids are like sponges, and they’re smarter than we imagine. Ask what your child enjoyed or learned. Answer any questions, and recap the sermon topic on the child’s level. Would you like for your children to receive over 50 hours of hands-on worship training this year? If you worship as a family each week, intentionally engaging your kids in true worship, that’s exactly what you’ll give them. “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them,” Proverbs 23:24. Diana Davis is an author, columnist and ministry wife in Pensacola, Fla. She is the author of the newly released “Six Simple Steps—Finding Contentment and Joy as a Ministry Wife.”
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CREATING A SPIRITUAL LEGACY FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN Jimmy Draper
President Emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources
ary Inrig wrote the wonderful book Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay (Moody Press, 1979), which was a detailed study of the book of Judges. One of the issues he quickly raised in the book was what he called “The Second Generation Syndrome.” In that early chapter of his book he discussed the difficulty of passing on our vision and convictions to our children and grandchildren. Chapter two of Judges describes how the nation faithfully served the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him. They had seen the miraculous things God had done. Then another generation was born who did not know the wonders God had given to Israel (2:7-13). Inrig writes, “The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second-generation experience is a second-hand experience. Church history is filled with examples of it, and sadly, so are many churches. The parent’s fervor for the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the children’s formalism and the grandchildren’s apathy.”
What caused the children and grandchildren to lose the vision of the parents? Inrig continues: “They knew about his deeds. But they did not know him or acknowledge him. They had lost touch with God. Here we come to the heart of the second-generation syndrome. It is a lukewarmness, a complacency, an apathy about amazing biblical truths that we have heard from our childhood, or from our teachers.” This underscores to us the great difficulty in seeing succeeding generations follow in the spiritual footsteps of their first-generation Christian parents. To see godly children of godly parents is something that happens frequently, but to see generation after generation follow in that heritage of faith is difficult to discover. I am a man most blessed of God. My strong godly heritage goes back at least to my grandparents. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher for 54 years. He and my grandmother were married for more than 50 years. My father was a Baptist preacher for 36 years until his death at the age of 52. He and my mother were married 33 years. My parents had three sons. All three of us became Baptist preachers. Our marriages have been centered in the Lord, and our children all have followed in the pattern of faith first revealed in my grandparents.
MY DAD ONCE TOLD ME, “THE DEBT WE OWE TO THE PAST IS TO LEAVE THE FUTURE INDEBTED TO US.” I AM DEEPLY INDEBTED FOR THE GODLY HERITAGE I RECEIVED, AND I PRAY THAT IT WILL BE PASSED ON NOT JUST TO TWO SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS BUT MANY MORE.
Our children married committed believers. My oldest son, Randy, is a committed layman and lay preacher. My youngest son, Bailey, is a Sunday school teacher and faithful member of his church. Both are ordained deacons. My daughter, Terri, married a minister—they have served in local churches for 20 plus years, and he is now the dean of the College at Southwestern Seminary. Carol Ann and I have six grandchildren. All of them have a personal relationship with Jesus, and they love the Lord. Our grandsons Kyle and Wes, are both serving in youth ministry. All of our
grandchildren love and serve the Lord. What an incredible blessing it is to have five successive generations walking in the grace and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ! How did it happen? What has been the secret? I can only venture some observations about our family. 1. The Bible was honored and revered in each generation as being the completely reliable and inerrant Word of God. 2. Never have any of us ever heard our parents fighting, shouting at each other, or in any way mistreating one another. Love, kindness and grace were lived out before us and are present in each of these generations. 3. Regular involvement at all church services (and usually all activities) was a given in our lives. We never knew we had a choice, yet we never felt we were made to attend. 4. We were taught compassion, kindness and generosity. Each of our homes has been a haven for friends and others to whom we ministered. Tithing and much more was a practice in our homes. 5. Integrity, consistency and obedience to God have been the characteristics of each family. We all learned early on to stand for what was right and to oppose what was wrong. And we learned to do it in a strong and firm, yet kind, way. Convictions don’t have to brutalize others.
6. Christian morality and biblical ethics were and are practiced and lived out in our homes. Consistency has always been a strong character trait in our families. 7. Daily fellowship with the Lord and drawing strength from his Word continues to be a strong pattern in our lives. 8. Forgiveness and grace has always been the pattern. All of us understand that we are frail and sinful and in need of forgiveness and grace so we learned to forgive others as we ourselves need forgiveness. We have avoided family squabbles, disputes and divisions. Our family really enjoys being together. 9. All of these things are wrapped up in our unswerving conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ has a plan for our lives and that we have found our fulfillment in him. My dad once told me, “The debt we owe to the past is to leave the future indebted to us.” I am deeply indebted for the godly heritage I received, and I pray that it will be passed on not just to two succeeding generations but many more. God’s greatest gift to us is our families. Let each of us make sure we have continued or begun a legacy of faithfulness for our children and grandchildren. Jimmy Draper is president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources and former pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless. This article first appeared on TheologicalMatters.com.
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PRAYING FOR NEXT GREAT AWAKENING By Shawn Hendricks Baptist Press
As this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approaches, SBC President Ronnie Floyd urges fellow Baptists to gather June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio, to cry out to God and expect great things to follow. This year’s annual meeting theme is “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer,” based on Romans 13:11. Floyd hopes Southern Baptists of all ages and ethnicities will attend and “rise to this moment in our nation calling out to God for the next Great Awakening in our nation.” Floyd pointed to the Tuesday (June 16) evening worship service, which he has described as having the potential to be an “epic night of prayer.” Floyd has called on 11 pastors, representing a variety of backgrounds and ages, to help lead the service. He said he hopes the evening will spark repentance and reconciliation. “We need to model before this country what it’s like for the men and women [of the SBC] to walk together in unity,” he said, “and that’s what I’m committed to leading us to do.” Crossover Columbus With more than 140 projects, activities and opportunities lined up, metro Columbus director of missions Rich Halcombe said
Columbus will be ready for this year’s Crossover on Saturday, June 13—the annual evangelistic outreach by Southern Baptists in the host city of the SBC annual meeting. Seventy-three local Metro Columbus Baptist Association (MCBA) churches are involved in the effort and will be leading local outreach in their communities. “With the local church as the lead, follow-up is built into the designed system for Crossover Columbus,” said Halcombe, noting the city’s Linden neighborhood will be an area of focus during Crossover. For an overview, or to learn more about preparing to participate in Crossover Columbus, visit namb.net/crossover. For additional information, visit crossovercolumbus.org. Collegiate groups can learn about opportunities at forcolumbus.org. Proposals Messengers gathering at the Greater Columbus Convention Center will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. See related story that includes those approved by SBC Executive
Committee during its meeting Feb. 17. Among them: 4A new name for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Prompted by its decision to relocate its primary campus to the Los Angeles area from the San Francisco area, the seminary has requested that its name be changed to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. 4An amended North American Mission Board ministry statement to include planting churches overseas in cooperation with the International Mission Board. Messengers approved a similar amendment change to the IMB’s ministry statement in 2011 to allow it to assist with unreached people groups in the U.S. and Canada. The amended NAMB statement is expected to relate particularly to military chaplains stationed at bases overseas. 4SBC bylaw amendments to allow for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall, after this year’s meeting in Columbus, and to establish a quorum for voting on all matters of SBC business as those present at the time of a ballot.
App available for 2015 SBC annual meeting
Messengers to the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay informed through a free smartphone app featuring schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, newsfeeds, the “Book of Reports,” the “Daily Bulletin” and much more. The app will be available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users and can be downloaded by typing in “SBC Annual Meetings” in the device’s app store. Once the app is downloaded, it will prompt you to install the information for the 2015 meeting. This year’s preferred Twitter hashtag will be #sbc15. Messengers also can follow @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @sbccp, and @SBCPastorsconf for the latest annual meeting updates.
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NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED FOR CONVENTION, PASTORS’ CONFERENCE OFFICERS GREEAR TO NOMINATE FLOYD FOR 2ND TERM Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd will be nominated for a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear announced April 20. Floyd “is a leader God has raised up for us at this crucial hour, and sensing God’s hand upon him, I want to see him lead us for another year,” Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., wrote in a statement to Baptist Press announcing his intention to nominate Floyd at the SBC annual meeting. Floyd, pastor of the multicampus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, has focused on calling the convention to pray for spiritual awakening and for advancing the gospel globally during his first term as SBC president, while also championing the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified method of funding missions and ministries internationally and in North America.
KAN. PASTOR STEVE DIGHTON TO BE 1ST VP NOMINEE
OHIO PASTOR CHAD KECK TO BE 2ND VP NOMINEE
YEATS TO BE RE-NOMINATED AS SBC RECORDING SECRETARY
JOHN MEADOR ANNOUNCED AS PASTORS’ CONFERENCE NOMINEE
Kansas pastor Steve Dighton will be nominated for first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Texas pastor and former SBC president Jack Graham announced May 12. Dighton is senior pastoral advisor at the Kansas Cityarea Lenexa Baptist Church, a church he founded 25 years ago and where he served as pastor until this past spring. Previously, he pastored two churches in Oklahoma after being called to ministry out of the men’s clothing business. “I have long admired Steve’s steadfast love and commitment to preaching the gospel and his passion for people and for leading the church. He is a wonderful friend to pastors and a humble servant leader. He is truly everything that a Southern Baptist pastor and leader should be,” said Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.
Ohio pastor Chad Keck will be nominated for second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June, a fellow Ohio pastor announced April 7. Keck has been pastor of the Dayton-area First Baptist Church of Kettering since December 2010, having earlier served churches in Florida, Texas and Tennessee during 14 years in the ministry. He also is a former collegiate ministry event coordinator for LifeWay Christian Resources. David Starry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vandalia, Ohio, said in relaying the nomination announcement that Keck “has a deep love for the local church, a Great Commission mindset and a strong commitment to personal evangelism.” He is the author of Vital Skills: How to be a Campus Missionary.
Joshua Hedger, a pastor and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary administrator, will nominate John L. Yeats for a 19th term as recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention. As executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention since 2011, Yeats has demonstrated leadership and invested in pastors’ lives, said Hedger. “I had the privilege of serving with John for two years when I was the second vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention,” Hedger said. “It is my joy to say that you would be hard pressed to find a more gracious, humble and shepherding leader than John Yeats. His leadership has been used by God to bring vision and unity to the Missouri Baptist Convention, and as a young pastor of that convention, I am thankful for his investment in my family, our church and our convention.”
John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, according to an announcement by Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines. Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., stated in a May 5 announcement to Baptist Press: “John Meador is a man of God and a very capable leader in his church, his state and in the SBC. In this crucial day when our Southern Baptist churches are seeking to be a catalyst for revival in America, John Meador brings seasoned leadership as a veteran pastor. He has led the historic First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, to be an epicenter for prayer, personal evangelism and spiritual awakening. he loves the Lord, he loves people and He loves Southern Baptists.”
IMB, NAMB to highlight future of SBC missions By Sharayah Colter Staff Writer
Southern Baptists attending this summer’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting may find it easier to get involved in SBC missions efforts thanks to a historic level of cooperation between the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. NAMB and IMB are working together on a variety of joint
ventures for the convention, including the Send North America Luncheon, a joint exhibit and a “Sending Celebration.” The cooperative efforts are designed to make it easier for Southern Baptists attending the convention to get their churches more involved in missions. “Missions isn’t easy, but getting involved in missions should be,” said Dustin Willis, NAMB’s team leader for Send North America events. “When we work togeth-
er, a church doesn’t have to run from one place to another to find out what they are going to do. Collectively, we can help mobilize churches together.” The fifth annual Send North America Luncheon will provide an opportunity for Southern Baptists to learn more about how the two entities’ closer cooperation will help better serve Southern Baptists in the coming months and years. Both NAMB President
Kevin Ezell and IMB President David Platt will share about the future of Southern Baptist missions at the luncheon. Free tickets can be secured at snaluncheon.com. NAMB and IMB will also share exhibit space with the SBC Executive Committee. where convention attendees can learn how to involve their churches in reaching unreached people groups internationally and church planting in North America.
The joint Sending Celebration will highlight 100 international and North American missionaries and the churches sending them to the field. Unlike previous commissioning services, this celebration will feature both missionaries and sending churches and will recognize the significant influence sending churches have on pushing back lostness around the world. The celebration will be held Wednesday morning, June 17.
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RIDE, ROPE, REPENT Gospel spreads within western heritage culture By Bonnie Pritchett TEXAN Correspondent CONROE Josh Henry, pastor of Trail of Life Cowboy Church (TLCC) is among a growing number of pastors who can quote the price of a steer or heifer and whose church budget includes a line item for “cattle leasing.” Hemmed in by Houston to the south and Huntsville State Park to the north, the city of Conroe acts as a filter between rural land tracks and urban sprawl. Just to the northeast of Conroe’s city center sits a church whose members do not have an aversion to all things fast-paced; they just largely prefer to contain it within a rodeo arena instead of within their jobs, homes or church. “It’s an atmosphere, an environment that is a draw to people who appreciate the western heritage and cowboy culture of America,” TLCC pastor Josh Henry said in describing the congregation he planted seven years ago with his wife, Erin, and three children at his side. The congregation recently celebrated the completion of a worship and education center— a big red barn situated next to the church’s rodeo arena. “That’s God’s ground too,” Henry said.
And that’s where the price of cattle comes in. The church leases about 17 head of cattle in order to provide roping practice each Thursday for area ropers looking to hone their skills. Rental of similar space in the area costs $15 to $20 per person per night, but TLCC offers their space for free to anyone willing to take part in a short devotional and prayer time before saddling up. Seeds have been planted and professions of faith made in that arena, said Henry, a bivocational pastor whose day job as a Montgomery County juvenile probation officer keeps the spiritual needs of his community an ever-present reality on his mind. Events throughout the year draw entire families to the arena. The church’s annual Spring Playday Buckle Series will wrap up June 13 following four weekend events that include riding and goat tying competitions. Riders as young as 5 years old can compete unassisted, with younger participants competing in the lead-in category. Top prize winners in each age group and category receive a specially engraved belt buckle. TLCC uses every event in the arena as an opportunity to draw people to Christ and into
“AND [JESUS] IS COMING BACK ON A HORSE. YOU DON’T GET MUCH MORE COWBOY THAN THAT.” the church. Only 28 percent of the church budget goes to personnel with the bulk of the budget being poured into ministry outreach. Henry said TLCC is not a “theme” church, using music and accoutrements to create a country-western motif into which the gospel is merely window dressing. Instead, he equates his work to other churches who reach immigrants to the United States by establishing churches built on their language and culture. “This is not culture impacting the church but the church impacting the culture,” he said. The people Henry reaches
Trail of Life Cowboy Church Pastor Josh Henry rides horses with is son Cole. PHOTO BY DRU HARPER PHOTOGRAPHY
may not be foreign-born, but the gospel of Christ is every bit as alien to many of them. Traditional church members, the pastor explained, must recognize that the homegrown church outsiders, just like immigrants, often need a familiar point of connection that will draw them to Christ and his church. Trail of Life Cowboy Church is one of four cowboy churches in Montgomery County alone. According to American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, there are 25 cowboy churches within a 200-mile radius of Houston. One of those is a TLCC church plant in Walker County. And whether it’s in spite of or because of its proximity to Houston, known as home to the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo, TLCC’s 200 members appreciate the simplicity of the worship services and ministries. But, Henry stressed, simplicity of church structure should not be misconstrued as acquiescence to the simple-minded—doctrine is solid and spiritual growth is expected. “More than thematic, it’s intentional,” Henry said. Before considering any thematic element for the church, Henry said it must meet three criteria: Does it honor God? Will it draw people to Christ? and Does it fit the filter of cowboy and western heritage? The latter speaks to the deeprooted traditions of people whose livelihoods are tied to
Trail of Life Cowboy Church Pastor Josh Henry with his wife, Erin, and children Hannah, Cole and Bethany. PHOTO BY DRU HARPER PHOTOGRAPHY
the land and are not simply shed at the church doorway. Even Henry, whose church sanctuary has a stained concrete floor instead of a carpeted one, admitted that although he was raised by an agriculture teacher and steeped in all-things Future Farmers of America, he grew up in a “traditional” church and struggled with the cultural differences he was asked to consider when presented with the opportunity to plant a Cowboy Church. “There were some things I had to realize were barriers to people [coming to traditional church] that did not impact doctrine,” he said. According to the SBTC website, almost one-fifth of all Texans are part of the western heritage culture. But the draw of the cowboy church is not exclusive to the cowboy. It reaches weekend ranchers and farmers, bikers, horse lovers and blue- and white-collar workers. Sunday morning services find folks in a variety of attire. Many wear jeans and boots and remove their cowboy hats for prayer or other moments of solemnity. When it comes to worship, traditional hymns and modern choruses are sung with a bit of Texas twang. Even the church’s name draws a comparison from Scripture to cowboy culture. Matthew 7:14 speaks of a narrow trail followers of Christ must travel. And the way for a cowboy has always been a trail said Henry, adding, “And [Jesus] is coming back on a horse. You don’t get much more cowboy than that.”
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CHURCH REBOUNDS FROM PAINFUL DECLINE THROUGH CULTURE OF PRAYER By Jane Rodgers TEXAN Correspondent VAN ALSTYNE The Crossroads Community Church, located on the dividing line between the towns of Anna and Van Alstyne, reached a crossroads of its own in 2014 when the congregation’s growth prompted a property search. Just as the church began negotiations for the purchase of 10 acres, another local congregation made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: the gift of a church facility situated on four acres and less than 15 years old. “In June 2014 we found land to purchase. We knew paying for it would stretch us, but we felt it was time to step out in faith,” The Crossroads pastor and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) field ministry strategist Shawn Kemp said. During a period of prayer, Kemp received an unexpected phone call from an elder of Van Alstyne’s Community Bible Church (CBC) to ask if The Crossroads might be interested in his church’s building and property. “We want to give it to you,” the CBC elder explained. “He told us they were looking for a church that was reaching the community,” Kemp said. In August, The Crossroads began holding services in the CBC facilities, which featured a 150-seat auditorium, education wing, atrium and playground. “It was a joyous time for us—a blessing—and we give God the
glory,” Kemp said. “But we also recognized that it was painful for another congregation.” Several former CBC families now worship at The Crossroads. Kemp and his congregation understand painful times. The Crossroads was founded nearly seven years ago when Kemp and his wife, LaRissa, felt called to plant a church in the Anna/ Van Alstyne area. The largely unchurched community of Anna had experienced explosive suburban growth—its population rising from 900 in 1999 to 6,500 in 2008 to nearly 15,000 in 2015. Commuting to and from Sherman for three years while awaiting the sale of their home helped the family identify with the residents of their new community as LaRissa began teaching in an Anna ISD elementary school. Most Anna/Van Alstyne residents commute to jobs in the metroplex. The Crossroads experienced steady growth after its founding in 2008 before moving to Joe K. Bryant Elementary School. The congregation numbered 140 by 2009 until conflict among several families caused an exodus. “We dropped from 130-140 to 35 in church over the next two years,” Kemp said. “It was an incredibly disappointing and discouraging time. In 2011, we had money for only two months, and we faced the possibility of closing the doors.” Kemp recalled attending a conference where pastors reported
The Crossroads Community Church Pastor Shawn Kemp (right) shares a laugh during a baptism celebration. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CROSSROADS COMMUNITY CHURCH
stories of great success in church growth while his own church was laden with crisis. “At that moment,” Kemp said, “I very clearly felt God saying, ‘What are you doing right now at The Crossroads so that this will be what you could say?’” Convinced God was calling the church to pray and seek after him, Kemp met with elders to discuss changes in the worship service. He wanted services to start with extended congregational prayer—a practice the church has maintained since then. “We have an opening song; then we pray,” Kemp said. “It’s not just the pastor standing at the front saying a pretty prayer.
We break up into small groups and pray for God to be at work in our church. We don’t just pray for sick people; we pray for God to move and work and to do something only he can do.” Visitors are encouraged to stay seated and allow The Crossroads members to seek them out. Those who do not feel comfortable praying aloud are invited to pray silently. Weekly congregational prayer is the “most important thing we do each Sunday,” Kemp said. “If we as a people aren’t praying, if we as a people aren’t seeking him, what are we doing?” The Crossroads also changed outreach methods. “We stopped talking about
what our church has to offer in activities and programs. We started telling people that our church will connect them to the mission of God in following Jesus,” Kemp explained. “We began telling people, ‘We want to help you give your life away,’” Kemp said. “In about a year’s time, God doubled us from 35 to 70. In another year’s time, we were pushing 100.” In its new facilities, The Crossroads offers two services on Sundays, with more than 230 attending Easter services. Five baptisms have occurred in 2015, with five or six slated to happen soon. “Our story is that God did this. God moved,” Kemp said. “He gets all the glory.”
Persecution of Christians lessening in Nepal By Jane Rodgers TEXAN Correspondent KATHMANDU, Nepal The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 devastated a country in which the persecution of Christians is lessening but still evident, said Sam Smith*, a native of Nepal who now lives in Texas. Smith should know. He experienced persecution from the time he trusted Christ as savior as a teenager in 1989. “I was a high caste Brahmin priest from a family of Hindu priests,” Smith said. His status meant singular treatment at his village school in the mountains of western Nepal: special seating, separation from lower “untouchable” castes. “People worshiped me as a god. They asked blessings of me,” Smith said. Families would
even use water in which Smith washed his feet to purify their households or bodies. “I was considered one of 330,000,000 Hindu gods,” Smith explained. It was a heady experience for a teenager but gave him no peace. “I wondered about peace and life after death. I was hungry for reality.” Reality came when a classmate, a Christian from an underground church, gave Smith a gospel tract on John 15:16. The friend’s father gave Smith a Nepalese language copy of the Gospel of John. Smith accepted weekly invitations to the friend’s home to discuss the Bible, Jesus and God. One year later, Smith accepted Christ and was later baptized. Then the persecution began, starting in Smith’s own family. His mother called Christianity a “cow eating religion” and banished him from her home.
Smith recalled when news of his salvation spread throughout his town, villagers savagely beat him. His best friend threw him off a 40-foot bridge into a river. Forced to travel from village to village and lacking shelter, he begged for food “wherever the sun would set.” Pastors of underground churches advised Smith, “Trust in God. Jesus will make a way.” He returned briefly to his mother’s home, still unable to renounce his faith. “My brother and most of the village tied me up and beat me,” Smith said. Smith left for Kathmandu, attending Bible college on a scholarship. Homeless again after graduation in 1994, the 20-year-old obtained a passport with the help of a Christian government official. After attending seminary in Singapore on
scholarship, Smith returned to Kathmandu with a love offering from his Singapore church to begin ministering in the mountain villages. “I was living by faith—no agency, no IMB (International Mission Board), no individual support. I was radically convicted to share my faith with the lost people of the mountains of my country,” Smith recalled. His efforts were often met with resistance from village elders. “I was kicked, beaten, jailed six times, kidnapped three times.” By 2003, his name appeared on government watch lists. Capture could mean a trial and jail unless he renounced Christianity. Today, things are changing in Nepal, Smith said. No longer is the gospel “completely forbidden” as it was in 1989, although cities are more open than villages.
Yet persecution still exists. Nepal remains up to 86 percent Hindu according to the government, Smith said. Public witness is forbidden. “No one can baptize openly. You cannot build churches. The government can even seize buildings used for worship. “Some of my Christian friends, pastors and leaders are still beaten,” Smith said. “Churches are burned.” People even remove the caskets of Christians from local cemeteries. Yet there is hope. Smith’s mother is now a believer. The brother who once cruelly beat him is a pastor. A church of 120 meets in Smith’s mother’s home. “Persecution makes us mature in Christ, Smith said. “It challenges us to do more of the Great Commission.” *name changed
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LOOMING SENIOR ADULT REVOLUTION TO IMPACT NATION IN MOST CONGREGATIONS, A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE FUTURE THAT DOES NOT INCORPORATE THE NEEDS, VALUES AND GIFTS OF SENIOR ADULTS IS INCOMPLETE.
by Chuck Kelley
President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
omething is happening that you may not have noticed. If you have noticed it, you may not fully appreciate its significance. It will affect you. It will affect your church. It will affect the whole nation. What’s happening is a senior adult revolution. Some call it the graying of America, but that is too gentle a term for what lies ahead. It is more like a ‘60s remix. The 1960s were the most turbulent, revolutionary years in modern American history. Every aspect of U.S. culture was affected, including the church. Now picture the ‘60s reimagined and reinvented: profound changes in American life driven by grandparents rather than college students, by retirement living and health care rather than drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. The Unprecedented Generation Here is the revolution in a nutshell: According to Ken Dychtwald in the “The Age Wave,” “two-thirds of all the men and women who have lived beyond the age of 65 in the entire history of the world are alive today.” Ponder that for a few moments. Dychtwald goes on to note that life expectancy for Americans doubled in the relatively brief history of our nation, creating for the first time “a mass society of healthy, active elders.” Not since the days of Noah has God given a generation extended life, good health and adequate resources. Today the fastest-growing segment of the senior adult population is the 85-and-up group. The birthdays you celebrate now are practice for the birthdays you will celebrate for many years to come.
The Ripple Effect The simple fact of senior adults living longer sets in motion many ripples. Older adults will be an important influence in our churches for a significantly longer time than was true in the past. They will not only be present, they will be active. They will not only be active, they will be vocal. This is one reason why attitudes toward worship style have become so complex for many congregations. In most congregations, a strategic plan for the future that does not incorporate the needs, values and gifts of senior adults is incomplete. Older adults will make attention to pastoral care essential for healthy churches. A growing number of senior adults will move from independent living to assisted living to life in a skilled nursing unit. How will the church minister to them as they make these very important transitions? How will the church incorporate their presence in a retirement community as a launching pad for evangelism and ministry to other residents of that community? Senior adults will affect the lifestyles and decisions of younger adults. A growing number of church members will have the care of one or more senior parents as a priority. Imagine the questions and issues faced by Baby Boomers who will retire and still have responsibility for the care of aging parents. This will affect how families spend their time, their
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money and their emotional energy. A church’s attitude toward, and provisions for, senior adults will be noticed in a way not unlike how parents look carefully at programs for their children. A Great Commission Army This senior adult revolution is more than a medical advance. As the number of unevangelized and unchurched in our nation grows, God is raising up a Great Commission army. He intends for senior adults to form the critical mass necessary for the gospel to penetrate the world. Their opinions will shape direction. Their willingness to give will affect fiscal stability. Their engagement with the mission will be crucial for mobilizing congregations. God intends for senior adults to step up to missions engagement and not step aside for younger adults to do all the work. The current generation of young adults is often called the Millennials. I call them the Lost Generation. They are the largest generation in American history, bigger even than the Baby Boomers. They are also the most unevangelized generation in American history. So many of them have no religious background; they are also called “nones” for responding to surveys about religious background and beliefs with “none of the above.” However, connections with senior adults are possible. Millennials made Tony Bennett, popular in the 1960s, more popular than at any other time of his career. Their interest in the classic hymns of the faith has spurred every major Christian artist today to record at least one album of hymns. They have a deep respect for
authenticity and consistency. We are unlikely to reach the Millennials without the witness of the seniors. How can senior adults make a difference? Here are some specific suggestions: 4Write cards and notes to people. Children and their parents are a good place to start. Personal mail is so rare these days that handwritten cards and notes become treasures. 4Be a mentor to younger adults. Get to know the ones around you. Ask about their lives. Listen to them. Pray for them. When they face issues you faced, tell them how you managed. Be a grandparent outside your family. 4Seek kingdom advance above personal satisfaction. You lived much of your life deferring dreams and desires for the sake of your family. Be willing to do the same when your church wants to try something new. 4Encourage, encourage, encourage. So few people have a constant encourager in their lives. 4Speak as often of Jesus as you do your grandkids. If you will keep Jesus on your mind, he will find a way out of your mouth. 4Give one last gift to Jesus through your estate. Honor him in your death as you sought to do in your life, making your last act on earth a gift to your church or a Christian ministry. Not since the days of Noah has God done for a generation of people what he is doing for this generation of senior adults. Celebrate your extended life, health and resources as his gift for his purposes. Use these additional years for his glory.
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PEW: CHRISTIANS DECLINE WHILE ‘NONES’ INCREASE By David Roach Baptist Press NASHVILLE The number of Christians in America has dropped nearly 8 percentage points since 2007 while the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by nearly 7 percentage points during the same period. That’s the finding of the Pew Research Center’s 200-page study of “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” released May 12. The survey of some 35,000 adults drew a variety of reactions from Southern Baptist leaders. “The results of the survey communicate growing evidence that the greatest need in America is a spiritual awakening,” Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told Baptist Press in written comments. “The time is now and the hour is urgent; our
churches in this nation must come together in clear agreement, visible union and extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening and to reach America and the world for Christ. “Simultaneously, we need to rise with the same urgency, having a vision to reach our communities, towns and cities for Christ, returning to the priority of evangelizing, disciplemaking and planting gospel churches exponentially,” said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. Pew’s survey—conducted by phone June 4 – Sept. 30, 2014, in Spanish and English—estimated a net decline of between 2.8 to 7.8 million Christians since a comparable survey in 2007. That translates to a drop from 78.4 percent of the U.S. population to 70.6 percent. Most of the decline occurred among mainline Protestants
and Roman Catholics, with each decreasing by approximately 3 percent as a portion of the population since 2007. For every convert to Catholicism in America, there are six former Catholics, according to the report. Historically black Protestant denominations held steady between 2007 and 2014, and evangelicals decreased 0.9 percent as a portion of the population while increasing by some 2 million in terms of raw numbers. “Generational replacement” as Americans from predominantly Christian generations died and “religious switching” were two primary causes of the decline among Christians, the survey found. A full 42 percent of Americans have a different religion than they did in childhood—a percentage that accounts for switches between evangelical, mainline and historically black Protestantism.
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Allan is Minister of Education at First Baptist Church Woodstock, Georgia. Allan is the founder of Ember to Blaze Ministries and writes Sunday School Leadership and training material. He has authored three books: “Sunday School in HD”, “The Six Core Values of Sunday School” and “Disciplining and Restoring the Fallen” as well as a DVD series, Sunday School Done Right and his new series, Forward from Here!
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Non-Christian religions have increased by 1.2 percentage points since 2007 to encompass 5.9 percent of American adults. But the increase of the religiously unaffiliated population—dubbed the “nones”— was the “most dramatic” change, a Pew senior adviser told journalists during a May 12 conference call. “This trend towards the unaffiliated has occurred among all age groups to some extent and among all the major racial and ethnic communities as well,” said John Green, a Pew senior advisor and distinguished professor of political science at the University of Akron. “In this regard, of particular note is a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who self-identify as atheists and agnostics.” While 25 percent of the nones claimed to be atheists or agnostics in 2007, 31 percent claimed those designations in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Protestants who identify with Baptist denominations dropped from 41 percent to 36 percent. “This research reveals that which many of us have been suspecting for quite some time,” said Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. “We have seen the ever-increasing secularization of our culture and know that this is affecting those who call themselves Christians. “Pastors and evangelists for years have said that we are always only one generation away from becoming a pagan culture,” Page told BP in written comments. “The importance of personal evangelism cannot be overstated. Our world needs Christ, and he has commissioned us to be the sharers of the gospel. Let us recommit to telling those in our sphere of influence about the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, underscored the survey’s finding that evangelicals now constitute a majority (55%) of American Protestants. He highlighted the steadiness of “convictional Christianity” amid the decline of liberal Protestantism. “Christianity isn’t dying, and no research says it is,” Stetzer wrote in a blog post. “The statistics about Christians in America are simply starting to show a clearer picture of what American Christianity is becoming— less nominal, more defined, and more outside of the mainstream of American culture. “For example, the cultural cost of calling yourself ‘Christian’ is starting to outweigh the cultural benefit, so those who do not identify as a ‘Christian’ according to their convic-
“THE CHURCHES THAT ARE THRIVING ARE THE VIBRANT, COUNTERCULTURAL CONGREGATIONS THAT AREN’T AFRAID TO NOT BE SEEN AS NORMAL TO THE SURROUNDING CULTURE. THIS REPORT ACTUALLY LEAVES ME HOPEFUL. THE BIBLE BELT MAY FALL. SO BE IT. CHRISTIANITY EMERGED FROM A ROMAN EMPIRE HOSTILE TO THE CORE TO THE IDEA OF A CRUCIFIED AND RESURRECTED MESSIAH. WE’VE BEEN ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY SINCE ROME, AND IT WAS ENOUGH TO TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN.” —RUSSELL MOORE, PRESIDENT OF SOUTHERN BAPTISTS’ ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION
tions are starting to identify as ‘nones’ because it’s more culturally savvy,” Stetzer wrote. “Because of this, the statistics show (on the surface) that Christianity in America is experiencing a sharp decline. However, that’s the path of those who don’t read beyond the surface. If there remains a relatively stable church-engaged, convictional minority, and there is a big movement on self-identification, that means that the middle is going away.” Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he sees hopeful signs amid Pew’s report. “This study makes it clear ... that people who don’t want Christianity don’t want the almost-Christianity offered to them by traditions that jettison the historic teachings of the church as soon as they become unfashionable,” Moore said in an ERLC news release. “The churches that are thriving are the vibrant, countercultural congregations that aren’t afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture. This report actually leaves me hopeful. The Bible Belt may fall. So be it. Christianity emerged from a Roman Empire hostile to the core to the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah. We’ve been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down,” Moore said. The report is the first of two expected from Pew this year on America’s changing religious landscape. The second report will detail Americans’ specific beliefs and practices.
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case, which could result in nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. In response to the federal government’s argument that gay marriage should be declared a constitutional right, Alito asked Verrilli about institutions that refuse to permit gay marriage, citing a 1983 decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s revocation of a tax exemption for Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in Greenville, S.C. The court “held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating,” Alito said. “So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Verrilli responded, “You know, I—I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I—I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is—it is going to be an issue.”
‘GOSPEL PROJECT’ GOES CHRONOLOGICAL THIS FALL MISSIONARY RETIREES EMBARK ON NEW PHASE OF SERVICE
Most of the 56 missionaries the International Mission Board honored May 2 upon their retirement from full-time overseas service to emeritus status in the U.S. didn’t start out as pastors or ministers on church staffs. Most were church members from diverse career fields who felt called to spread the gospel around the world: an accounting clerk, advertising manager, attorney, beef producer, carpenters, critical care nurse, environmental control chemist, funeral home chaplain, house parents in a children’s home, insurance agents, librarian, maintenance workers, physician, psychologist, radio announcer, rehabilitation counselor, teachers, truck driver and social workers. IMB President David Platt told the new emeriti that retirement isn’t meant to mark the end of missions service but rather the beginning of a new phase of it in their home churches.
JACK GRAHAM: IT’S ‘CRYING TIME IN AMERICA’ Pleas for revival and religious freedom were heard repeatedly at the National Day of Prayer service May 7 in Washington, including the keynote address by Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham and a letter he read from imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini. Graham, pastor of the 40,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and a former Southern Baptist Convention president, served as honorary chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. “We are facing a crisis in America. These are desperate days,” Graham said to the hundreds gathered at the Canon House Office Building. “This is a crying time in America. It’s a time for tears.”
GGBTS RELOCATION TO BE ‘MISSION-FOCUSED’ Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President Jeff Iorg presented building plans for both the new primary campus in Southern California and commuter campus in the San Francisco area to trustees during their spring meeting. Iorg said the seminary would use a “mission-focused design scheme” to best utilize space in the new locations. The seminary’s executive leadership team worked carefully through the design needs of the new campuses, using input from current employees and a facility use study. The seminary’s new campuses are being specifically designed to operate efficiently and with a sharp focus on raising future ministry leaders, Iorg reported as he presented a floor-by-floor overview of the campus in Ontario, Calif. The campus in Fremont in the San Francisco area will be housed in a completely new building on land donated to the seminary by a church. Valued at $2.9 million, the property is the largest single gift ever received by Golden Gate Seminary. The design of the new campus in the Bay Area, while mirroring the current Mill Valley campus in some ways, will be significantly modernized, Iorg said.
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After three years and more than three quarters of a million weekly users, The Gospel Project is changing its approach. Starting this fall, LifeWay Christian Resource’s newest Bible study curriculum for all ages will go through the Bible chronologically. The Gospel Project: Chronological will start from the beginning for a threeyear cycle through the entire Bible. “This approach allows groups to understand biblical theology as it was progressively revealed in redemptive history,” Managing Editor Trevin Wax said.
“We will spend 18 months in the Old Testament and 18 months in the New,” Wax said, “with almost every study session aligned so that churches that want to make this journey together can unite all ages around the study of one central story per week.”
HUCKABEE, CITING SOCIAL ISSUES, ENTERS GOP FIELD
With the announcement of his candidacy May 5, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined a field of six Republicans and two Democrats who have officially entered the race for president of the United States. Huckabee, in announcing his candidacy from his hometown of Hope, Ark., spoke of surrendering his life to Christ at a Baptist church during Vacation Bible School, attending Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and defending life and marriage. America “has lost our way morally,” Huckabee said. “We witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice, and we are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage.” A former Southern Baptist pastor, Huckabee opposes abortion and samesex marriage, as do all other announced Republican candidates: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Both announced Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, support legalizing gay marriage and protecting the right to abortion.
NEPAL HIT WITH SECOND MAJOR QUAKE IN 17 DAYS
SCOTUS MARRIAGE DECISION COULD THREATEN SEMINARIES Southern Baptist seminary leaders are among those expressing concern at the U.S. solicitor general’s admission that nationwide legalization of gay marriage could lead to the removal of taxexempt status from religious institutions that stand for traditional marriage. Also expressing concern are the National Religious Broadcasters and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Todd Linn, chairman of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, told Baptist Press the “prospect of legalizing gay marriage across the nation raises a host of questions and concerns for religious institutions and conservative evangelical seminaries.” The concerns of Linn and others stem from an exchange at the U.S. Supreme Court April 28 between Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments for the
A powerful earthquake rattled Nepal on May 12, killing at least 79 people and sending thousands more rushing to the streets. The 7.3-magnitude quake came just 17 days after a massive earthquake killed 8,046 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. The May 12 tremor set off a series of landslides at the epicenter, Namche Bazar, which is near Mount Everest. Southern Baptist relief teams were already on the ground in Nepal from the earlier quake, and were well positioned to investigate the new damage and emergency needs. The teams continue to provide aid for a country still picking up the pieces from the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit April 25. Baptist Global Response, the Southern Baptist humanitarian organization with which IMB partners in disaster response, is coordinating the efforts. BGR’s Nepal Earthquake Response will continue to help hurting people with basic survival needs like water, shelter, food and healthcare.
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Minister Church Relations changes name, maintains ministries By Texan Staff GRAPEVINE The Minister Church Relations department at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has been renamed Pastor Church Relations. Heath Peloquin, Director of Pastor Church Relations, said the change was made to define
CHURCH POSITIONS PASTOR u FBC Electra seeks FT senior pastor. Parsonage provided. Please send resumes to PO Box 466, Electra, TX, or [email protected]
. u Cornerstone BC, Lucas, on 11 acres in growing suburban community seeks FT pastor with a minimum of five years’ experience. Church averages 300-400 in Sunday school. Salary dependent upon experience. Contact Randy Fletcher at 214-531-9407 or [email protected]
. u Lakeview BC, Belton, a unique SBTC affiliate, seeks a FT senior pastor. Seminary and pastoral experience preferred. Please submit resume to the pastor search team at [email protected]
or Pastor Search Team, 7717 Hwy 317, Belton, TX 76513. Resumes accepted through July 31, 2015. u FBC Pettus seeks a FT pastor. Seminary and pastoral experience preferred. Send resume to Pastor Search Committee, First Baptist Church, PO Box 460, Pettus, TX, 78146, or email [email protected]
. u Community BC of Eldorado seeks FT or bi-vocational pastor. Church is debt-free and has a wonderful church plant. Send resume to Community Baptist Church, PO Box 998, El Dorado, TX, 76936. u Memorial BC Killeen, SBTC affiliated, is searching for senior pastor to lead in discipleship, evangelism, teaching, missions and service. Ten years of ministerial experience and formal theological education preferred. Send resumes and letters of reference to [email protected]
, or mail to MBC, Attention: SPSC, 4001 Trimmier Road, Killeen, Texas 76542. u Calvary BC Cuero seeks FT pastor. Seminary training preferred. Parsonage with utilities included. Send resume to PO Box 64 Cuero, TX 77954, or email [email protected]
. u FBC Greenville seeks senior pastor with heart to preach, teach, minister, evangelize and lead. Candidate should exemplify qualities from Pastoral Epistles with seminary degree and at least five years of experience. Church website is www.fbcgreenville.org. Submit resume to russelldavis1970@ sbcglobal.net. u Forest Branch BC is seeking a bi-vocational pastor. Please forward resumes to: Attn: Pastor Search Committee, Forest Branch Baptist Church, 3655 US Hwy 59 N, Livingston, TX 77351. u PT Bilingual pastor needed for new Spanish service and ministry start-up at FBC Nixon. Salary is $300 per week. Email resumes and questions to [email protected]
more clearly the purpose and function of the department. “Pastor Church Relations wanted to clarify our role as one [that] focuses on pastors, churches and associations as the relational arm of the convention,” Peloquin said. “To serve those who serve the church [is] our greatest aim.”
MUSIC u FBC Edgewood is seeking a FT minister of music/ministerial assistant. He will serve the church in leading worship by choosing scripturally sound music and will work with the pastor on out/ inreach, and teach adult Wednesday Bible study/prayer. Submit resumes/video of worship leading: [email protected]
. Attn: Gale Kimbrough, Chairman, FBC Edgewood, PO Box 355, Edgewood, TX, 75117. u Danville First Baptist Church, AR, is seeking a passionate FT music minister/worship leader. Please submit resumes to PO Box 877, Danville, AR 72833 or email [email protected]
. u FBC Mixon seeks bi-vocational worship pastor. We are a mid-sized church with Sunday worship attendance averaging 190. We are seeking someone with a blended worship style. Send a cover letter and resume to [email protected]
. For more information on the church, go to www.fbcmixon.org. u Harleton BC is accepting resumes for a PT minister of music. Send resumes to PO Box 344, Harleton, TX, 75651 or email to [email protected]
. COMBINATION u FBC Henrietta seeks FT minister of music/senior adults. Parsonage and salary dependent on experience and qualifications. Send resume to [email protected]
. u Calvary BC seeks FT music and education pastor. Duties include developing, coordinating, leading and prayerfully conducting music and education ministries. Must affirm The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Salary pkg $40k-$48k. A job description can be found at cbchamilton.org. Send resumes to [email protected]
or 805 East State Highway 22, Hamilton, TX 76531. u Collinsville Crossroads Church in Collinsville is seeking a PT children’s/worship minister to lead Wednesday night children’s ministry and lead worship while playing an instrument for Sunday morning service. Contact Keith Byrom at [email protected]
. YOUTH u Sunray BC is searching for FT student pastor, who will be responsible for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, teaching biblical truth and engaging in pastoral care ministries to preschoolers through 12th grade, with an emphasis in youth ministry. Send resumes to [email protected]
. u Oak Meadow BC in South Austin is searching for a FT youth and
Among the ministries provided to Texas churches and pastors by the Pastor Church Relations department are the FORGE Young Pastors’ Network, the Paul-Timothy Conference, the Pastor & Wife retreat, the Equip Mega Conference and the assistance of Field Ministry Strat-
associate pastor with the emphasis on developing our youth. It requires someone who is bi-lingual in Spanish and English. If interested, please send your resume to [email protected]
u FBC Archer City seeks a FT student pastor to lead students to be disciples of Jesus Christ through worship, nurturing and outreach with commitment to teaching God’s Word. Please submit resume to Adam Davis at [email protected]
. u FBC of Stinnett seeks a FT student minister. Send resume to FBC c/o Personnel Committee, PO Box 1316, Stinnett, TX 79083, or email [email protected]
. u FBC Edgewood seeks a PT minister of youth to lead, develop, promote and coordinate a balanced program of activities and discipleship ministry to students, 7th-12th grades. Send resume to fbceyouthministersearch@gmail. com or Gale Kimbrough, Chairman, FBC Edgewood, PO Box 355, Edgewood, TX, 75117. u Carey FBC in Childress seeks a bi-vocational youth minister to lead 6th-12th graders on Sun & Wed, mission trips and camp, and lead them in participating in our outreach program. Salary BOE, housing provided. Send resumes to Search Committee, Carey 1st Baptist, 7394 Loop 328, Childress, TX 79201 or email pastor@ carey1stbaptist.com. More information found at carey1stbaptist.com. u FBC Winnie is accepting resumes for a PT youth minister (Wednesdays & weekends). Send resumes to FBC Winnie, PO Box 665, Winnie, TX 77665. ATTN: Kenneth Hodges. For more information, call 409-781-3891. u Central BC Hermleigh seeks PT youth minister. Needs to be able to prepare lessons for Sunday morning/evening and Wednesday evening youth group. If interested, call Pastor Joshua Smith at 325863-2305 or send an email to [email protected]
. CHILDREN u Patterson Ave BC in Comanche, OK, seeks energetic PT children’s minister to lead volunteers and kids 1st-6th grades. Find more information at pabcfamily.com. u FBC Marlow, OK, is searching for a FT children’s minister with primary responsibilities for pre-K through 4th grade. Send resumes to Dr. Joe Ligon, FBC Marlow, PO Box 111, Marlow, OK 73055, or email to [email protected]
. OTHER u FBC Keller seeks executive assistant to the senior pastor. He/ she is responsible for assisting the senior pastor and must be able to
egists who can come alongside pastors and churches across the state to offer help and prayer support. To learn more about the Pastor Church Relations department and how it can serve you and your church, visit sbtexas.com/pcr.
manage time, schedules, appointments, and help in hosting special events. This is a FT position with benefits. Please contact Jack Gatewood at 817-431-2545 x130 or email [email protected]
. u A rapidly growing fellowship currently over 1,100 at Flint BC, Flint, TX, seeks a FT minister, gifted and experienced in business administration, for the position of director of administration. To submit your resume, request the job description, and ask questions, please email [email protected]
. u Lamar Street BC in Sweetwater is seeking a FT family pastor. The ability to lead music is a plus. For a job description and/or to submit a resume with a cover letter, direct your correspondence to [email protected]
. u Memorial Baptist in Killeen seeks a church administrator with two years of administrative leadership experience, strict confidentiality and strong communication skills to supervise multiple ministries, function as staff liaison to multiple committees
and be responsible for personnel management, office management, properties management, utilities and contract management. Send resumes to [email protected]
. u Bi-fork Association seeks a FT director of missions. We are looking for a candidate ready to lead the associational office to be a resource to both churches and pastors. Our main emphasis is a candidate who can guide in providing and organizing opportunities for cooperative missions. Please forward all questions and resumes to [email protected]
. u Gregg Baptist Association, Longview, TX, seeks resumes for director of missions. Must have a heart for encouraging and networking churches (both SBTC and BGCT). Will provide administration and leadership to fulfill the vision of the GBA. Resumes accepted until May 30, 2015. Send to: Carolyn Anderson, [email protected]
, or 121 Gilmer Rd., Longview, TX 75604.
Announcements u New Life BC of Vernon has 22 free pews to give away to any church that wants them and can haul off themselves. Padded pews are in good shape with blue fabric. If interested, email pastor Chris Whitney at [email protected]
or call 940-553-3478. u You are invited to The Journey Church 2015 Marriage Conference at The Cascades Event Center, Fairfield Inn, The Colony, Texas 75056. Instead of Fighting in Your Marriage, why not Fight for Your Marriage? July 31 - Aug. 1. Friday, 6:30-9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Cost is free. Email [email protected]
to register. u Drummer needed for a praise band at Community Life Church in Lewisville for Sunday morning worship, with Wednesday night rehearsals. If interested, email [email protected]
. u Oklahoma Baptist University will host the 2015 OBU Pastors School July 20-22. Designed to provide an opportunity of ministry development for Baptist pastors, the 2015 Pastors School will feature John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless,Texas, and Ken Fentress, pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md. Cost for the event including housing and meals is $99. Register at okbu.edu/ pastors-school or call 405-585-5700 for more information. u Going Higher Ministries presents “A Woman’s World: Is there a better model for sexuality than 50 Shades of Grey?” Join us for an event of empowerment for young ladies and women of all ages. Conference will be held June 20 at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church from 1-3 p.m. Leah Holder will be our keynote speaker. Register at www.MesquiteFriendship.com.
OBITUARY SAN ANGELO Chester Sylvester, 97, died April 23 in San Angelo. He pastored several Southern Baptist churches beginning in 1939 and most recently was a member of Lakeview Baptist Church in San Angelo. He graduated from Howard Payne College in 1945 and attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a recognized and respected figure in the San Angelo area due to his personal visits to patients and residents at area hospitals and nursing facilities for many years. He is survived by his wife, Melba, to whom he was married for more than 70 years, and by his son, David Sylvester, executive pastor of First Baptist Church of Colleyville.
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TERRY COY PURSUES NEW MINISTRY, CONTINUES WORK WITH HISPANIC CHURCH PLANTERS By Tammi Reed Ledbetter Special Assignments Editor GRAPEVINE Spend a little time with Terry Coy and you’ll hear him say, “We’re always looking for church planters.” Those were the words that captured Steve Cochran’s heart and mind as the East Texas pastor sensed God moving him in a new direction that eventually led him to plant Crosswalk Church in Round Rock. Helping church planters like Cochran get off to a good start is part of what Coy had in mind when he became director of missions at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in 2008 and pledged to lead the missions team to develop the most effective pace-setting strategies in the Southern Baptist Convention. “Terry and his staff made sure I was effectively trained and amply supplied with resources,” said Cochran, who chaired SBTC’s Executive Board at the time of his pastoral transition. Two other members of the board heard the same call to church planting. “There are three vibrant and growing churches that have been birthed under the church planting leadership of Terry Coy from the days of our serving the convention together,” Cochran said. “He has blessed us with excellent leadership and vision.”
Coy recently resigned his position as director of missions to pursue new ministry opportunities in teaching, speaking and writing. He will return to Terry Coy his initial status as a consultant working with Spanish language church planters, as well as handling assessments and other church planting needs for the convention. Having grown up in Chile where his parents served as Southern Baptist missionaries for 35 years, Coy was a 30-year-old businessman when he responded to God’s call to ministry. It wasn’t long before he found himself involved in missions again, serving as an associational Hispanic consultant. “That experience opened my eyes to the changing demographics in Texas and the U.S. and to the concept of my own country as a mission field,” he wrote in his book Facing the Change: Challenges and Opportunities for an American Missiology. Much of the book grew out of “reading, conversations, theological reflections and interactions with pastors, planters and other missionaries” as a result of his ministry at SBTC, Coy noted.
While serving at SBTC, Coy advanced the role of People Group Champions, enlisting churches to engage, evangelize and plant churches among Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. He recognized that the growth of these three groups presented an opportunity for Texas Southern Baptists to share their faith in Christ. Coy also observed that the window of opportunity for gospel work among them is often as they are assimilating into their new culture. “They may not be numerically large in Texas, but they are growing very fast,” he told the TEXAN. Among the improvements he led the missions team to develop are a complete web-based church planter application process and a certified church planter coaching system in both English and Spanish. The annual church planter retreat grew to 200 participants, including planters with racial and ethnic roots that are Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, Asian-Indian, Korean, Chinese, Nepali, Burmese, Iranian and Arabic. Coy developed SBTC’s Borderlands Reach strategy to saturate the most under-evangelized and underchurched region of Texas with the gospel through a focus on evangelism and ministry by church planting missionaries to develop healthy, multiply-
ing churches in Laredo, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley. During his tenure, he has helped SBTC-affiliated churches work in partnership with missions and church planting efforts in places as diverse as UtahIdaho, Montreal, Lebanon and India. SBTC-affiliated churches have shown their confidence in the missions strategy by increasing gifts to the Reach Texas state missions offering, which has grown from just over $1 million to nearly $1.3 million during the timeframe in which Coy led the department. Describing Coy as “a theologian by training and a missiologist by passion,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said, “Terry created one of the finest church planting systems in the SBC. While we will miss his dayto-day involvement, I am delighted that he has agreed to continue giving leadership to SBTC church planting. Terry’s role is invaluable for gospel advance in Texas.” Coy told the board, “I thank God for the opportunity he has given me to serve at SBTC, allowing me to be involved in kingdom work in ways that I probably never would have been able to otherwise.” Quick to credit his co-workers, he added, “I’m thankful to have worked alongside a top-notch staff and missions team.”
State Bible Drill awards 9 scholarships, advances 3 to national competition By Sharayah Colter Staff Writer GRAPEVINE The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention held the state Bible Drill competition at its Grapevine offices, May 2, awarding college scholarship money to nine
students and advancing three to the national competition in Kingsland, Ga. In the Speakers’ Tournament Joshua Mason of Cornerstone Baptist Church placed first and advanced to nationals; Madison Russell of Cornerstone Baptist Church placed
second; and Anaya Runnells of Cornerstone Baptist Church placed third. In the high school Bible Drill division, Braden Samuels of First Baptist Church Stinton placed first; Riley Tatum of Bethany Baptist Church placed second and advanced to na-
tionals since Samuels advanced last year; and Jacob Walters of Lake Athens Baptist Church placed third. Janice Beto of Esperanza Del Rio Community Church and Victoria Christopherson of First Baptist Church Euless tied for first in the youth Bi-
ble Drill division. Hope Murphy of First Baptist Church DeKalb placed third. Beto advanced to nationals. Students placing first won $1,000 college scholarships while second and third place students won $500 and $250 scholarships, respectively.
In the high school Bible Drill division, winners were (left to right) Braden Samuels (first place), Riley Tatum (second place) and Jacob Walters (third place). PHOTO BY ADAM TARLETON
In the Speakers’ Tournament, winners were (left to right) Joshua Mason (first place), Madison Russell (second place) and Anaya Runnells (third place). PHOTO BY ADAM TARLETON In the youth Bible Drill division, winners were (left to right) Janice Beto (first place), Victoria Christopherson (first place) and Hope Murphy (third place). PHOTO BY ADAM TARLETON
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TEXAS GOVERNOR UPHOLDS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AT SBTC GATHERING By Tammi Reed Ledbetter Special Assignments Editor HORSESHOE BAY In order to return America to the religious principles on which the country was founded, Christians must unite “as a hedge against the forces of evil,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared at a April 27 dinner with members of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board. America is in a crisis at this time,” he said, describing the challenges to religious liberty, traditional marriage and the sanctity of life. “Texas must help lead America down the right pathway,” he insisted. “From my very first year in office as attorney general back
in 2003, I have been involved in ongoing legal fights defending marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” Abbott said. He drew applause from the audience after stating, “I believe God’s law cannot be undone by man’s law.” Abbott said he used the occasion of his inauguration to the highest state office to assure the people of Texas, “As long as I am the governor of Texas we will remain one state and one nation under God.” He told the audience of Southern Baptists, “Our lives don’t have to be defined by challenges but how we respond to challenges,” alluding to the experience that put him in the wheelchair from which he spoke.
“After I graduated from law school and had moved to Houston I had charted a pathway toward success based upon manmade goals until I was humbled before God,” Abbott shared. “One day while I was out jogging, a huge tree fell on my back, fracturing the vertebrae and my spinal cord, leaving me forever paralyzed, never able to walk again.” “There was more than my back that was broken. My life was broken,” Abbott said. “For a man like myself who had grown up an athlete, I felt life was absolutely hopeless.” He credited his faith in God and the support of his wife as the means of piecing his life back together. “I committed myself to God, offering every single talent I may
ever have to fulfill God’s will here on earth,” Abbott recalled. “The only way we are going to return and restore America to her main mission from her beginning is to get this country back on the pathway of the religious principles upon which
we were founded,” he added, encouraging pastors to be involved in their communities. “Together we will respond and keep America the freest, strongest, most God-fearing, God-believing nation in the history of the world.”
SBTC grant undergirds mission partnership with SEND Montreal By Tammi Reed Ledbetter Special Assignments Editor HORSESHOE BAY Church planting efforts in Montreal gained ground April 28 when the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention approved a $100,000 grant to the North American Mission Board to assist missionary volunteer Woody Wilson in coaching church planters and student missionaries as well as encouraging evangelistic opportunities for Montreal churches. Woody Wilson, a former International Mission Board missionary to France and church planter in Chicago, will be serving as a Mission Service Corps Volunteer for NAMB as part of the SEND Montreal strategy. He will guide the process of moving student missionaries to apprenticeship opportunities, then placing them in internships that
train them to plant churches. The board also redesignated a $250,000 grant approved last year to purchase property in Montreal for a church planter multiplication center and campus of La Chapelle Church. Instead of acquiring property, the change allows more flexibility to fund renting a facility and equipping new churches. Since launching in 2013 the church has grown to more than 900 people in attendance, reporting over 80 baptisms and more than 200 decisions for Christ during 2014. La Chapelle will plant two new churches in the next 18 months. The board also received a report during their spring retreat of the Reach Houston initiative to intentionally focus church planting and revitalization efforts in the nation’s fourth largest city. Eighteen
pastors met April 23 at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in Houston to hear about the initiative and offer their advice. SBTC will employ a strategist to establish church planting centers and coordinate with existing churches to reach the most diverse mega-city in North America. Other reserve funds grants will provide $50,000 for special projects to meet ministry opportunities that arise outside the convention’s normal budget and up to $90,000 to fund the 2016 Breathe Deep Conference for non-pastoral church staff. The board approved giving property in Laredo to a local ministry entity that will be established under the guidance of a board made up of members of SBTC affiliated churches. The former church building was purchased in 2011 to launch church
planting efforts near the border and host mission groups with the intention of transferring ownership within five years. Affiliation requests for 40 churches were approved while 22 were removed, 20 of which have disbanded and two others having merged with other congregations. Cooperative Program receipts through March amounted to $6,519,822, coming in at $264,193 below budget for the same period. However, that gap had decreased to under $100,000 by the time of the board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis reported. CP receipts through the end of 2014 exceeded the nearly $26.8 million budget by $301,706. Vern Hargave of the auditing firm PSK reported a “clean opinion” of the convention’s annual audit, describing financial operations as “very well
run, very well managed and a very accountable system.” The board received the resignation of Terry Coy after 14 years of service with SBTC, the last seven as director of missions. He will continue serving with SBTC as a consultant in the area of church planting while pursuing teaching, writing and speaking opportunities. “Reaching Texas and touching the world is more than a slogan,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the board. “It’s a mandate of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.” He reflected on two common denominators he had observed while leading revivals in two different churches during the past month—a culture of prayer and a genuine care for people. “We are not having this sweeping spiritual awakening yet, but the mercy drops round us are falling.”
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WHAT IS MARRIAGE? AUTHOR, RESEARCH FELLOW DEFENDS TRADITIONAL VIEW OF MARRIAGE By Alex Sibley TEXAN Correspondent NORTH RICHLAND HILLS In less than two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on four marriage cases. The marriage laws of the states from which these cases stem—Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan—were all upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in accordance with state voters’ decision that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Although judges in other states have struck down similar marriage laws, these four states’ marriage laws were upheld. As a result, all four cases have been appealed to the Supreme Court, with a decision to be made later this year. Speaking at North Richland Hills Baptist Church (NRHBC), April 15, Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research at The Heritage Foundation, said, “What stands on the line here are all state marriage laws. If the Supreme Court upholds these marriage laws, your marriage law in Texas remains good law. If the Supreme Court strikes down these laws, by implication, it will be striking down your law as well, and marriage will be redefined in all 50 states.” Anderson, who co-authored the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, spoke at NRHBC at the invitation of the church’s pastor, Scott Maze. Maze said the aim of the community-wide event was to equip people with accurate information with regard to the marriage conversation. Rather
than appeal to the Bible or even to morality, Anderson explored the concept of marriage as a policy institution. Specifically, he examined why government is involved in “the marriage business” to begin with. He began by articulating the two conflicting views of marriage in today’s society. Advocates for same-sex marriage, in Anderson’s words, define marriage as “an intense, emotional, romantic, caregiving relationship.” “So [according to this view], what makes marriage different than other type of relationship is the intensity of the emotional bond,” Anderson explained. “It has what every other relationship has, but it just has more of it.” Noting that this view is not restricted to same-sex marriage, Anderson acknowledged that many heterosexual couples view marriage in the same way. The problem with this view, then, is not related to homosexuality, but rather to what Anderson labels a bad philosophy of marriage. He explained that, as a product of the sexual revolution, this philosophy led to the rise of sexual promiscuity and out-of-wedlock childbearing as well as an increase in divorce rates. By contrast, Anderson said the more traditional view of marriage is distinct from other adult consenting relationships in three ways. First, it unites spouses—by means of physical intimacy—in heart, mind and body. Second, this act is inherently ordered
toward creating and then raising new life. And lastly, marriage is governed by comprehensive commitments— specifically, pledges of permanence and exclusivity. Building on this foundation, Anderson explained, “The reason government is in the marriage business is because the union of a man and a woman can produce a child, and someone needs to be responsible for that child. Marriage is the institution that societies all throughout history and all across the globe have devised to maximize the likelihood that a man commits to a woman, and the two of them—committed to each other—take responsibility for raising that child.” Regarding the significance of these two visions of marriage in light of the upcoming Supreme Court hearings, Anderson explained, “The law will either embrace one vision of marriage or the other. The law will teach, and as the law teaches, it shapes our culture.
Ryan T. Anderson, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, discusses marriage at North Richland Hills Baptist Church, April 15. PHOTO BY NEIL WILLIAMS
Our culture then shapes our beliefs. Our beliefs then shape our actions. So over time, you will see one vision of marriage or the other impact the way that your children and grandchildren understand what marriage is, which will then impact how your children and grandchildren live out their own marriages.” Acknowledging the possibility that the government will redefine marriage nationwide, Anderson listed three potential consequences: (1) if marriage is regarded as a genderless institution, there will be no institution left in public life that upholds even the ideal that every child deserves both a mother and father; (2) other aspects of marriage will also be redefined (as evidenced by the coining of terms referring to three-person relationships and open marriages); and (3) the law will treat those who hold the traditional view of marriage in the same way it treats racists.
Concerning this third point, Anderson noted that in states that have already redefined marriage, Christianrun adoption agencies have been shut down and bakers, florists and photographers have been fined for refusing to aid in the celebration of same-sex weddings. Anderson concluded by clarifying that support for the traditional view of marriage does not equate to denying the rights of homosexual couples. “If you’re not interested in entering into a male/female, husband/wife relationship, then you’re not interested in getting married,” he explained. “You’re interested in having some other type of relationship, and the law doesn’t prevent you from doing so. People in all 50 states are free to live and to love how they want; they’re not free to have the state redefine what marriage is.”
Raising up young ministers vital for future By Erin Roach TEXAN Correspondent AMARILLO Raising up young ministers is a goal churches should consider as they seek to ensure kingdom growth for the future, and Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo is an example of a congregation that is bearing such fruit. Since its founding in 1957, 120 men and women have emerged from Paramount to enter Christian vocational ministry. In the past nine years, the church has licensed 31 men to the gospel ministry, including eight in April. Also in the past nine years, 12 young women have com-
mitted to Christian service, Gil Lain, Paramount’s pastor, told the TEXAN. “Part of our calling as Christians is fulfilling the Great Commission, and these guys and gals will go on to be missionaries, pastors and other church leaders,” Lain said. Paramount has a culture of missions and service, Lain said, noting that the church has five mission congregations and about half a dozen missionary families serving overseas. Youth in the church “get to meet these missionaries when they’re on stateside assignment, and sometimes we take our mission trips to where
these families are, and they spend the whole week with them,” Lain said. “We try to give our students the opportunity to go on an international mission trip and a stateside mission trip before they graduate,” he said. Another significant influence is that pastoral staff members at Paramount generally have long tenures. Lain has been at the church 23 years, and the education minister has been there 25 years. Another associate pastor and two other staff members have been there about 15 years each, Lain said. “So they get to see these same people the whole time
they’re growing up,” Lain said of the youth. “They get to grow with their kids and meet them and know them. They say, ‘These people must like serving the Lord. They come and stay here.’ “I think that’s important. It’s not absolutely necessary, but I think it has helped our youth to see ministry is a great calling and these people seem to have fun doing it,” said Lain, whose three children grew up in the church and now are in vocational ministry. Paramount also has many church members who invest in youth, Lain said, including serving as youth leaders and
volunteers for mission trips and service opportunities. Lain encourages church leaders to make raising up young ministers a priority by offering them plenty of opportunities to serve and by giving individual attention. “Whenever someone is interested, talk to them,” he said. “Try to find out what they’re thinking.” For years, Lain has met with one, two or three young men at a time on Thursday mornings for breakfast to invest in future ministers and help give them an understanding of what ministry involves and what it requires.