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Articles by David E. Hankins

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The following is adapted from a sermon delivered by Dr. David E. Hankins, Vice President for Cooperative Program for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. The entire sermon is available for download at

Let me give you four characteristics that make the Cooperative Program a superior system for reaching the world with the gospel. It doesn't mean that it is the only way to do it, but let me tell you why I believe it is a gift from God. It may be the most effective, efficient, far-reaching, consistent, missionary funding enterprise in the history of Christian denominations. If you think that is an overstatement, I challenge you to compare what's done through this method versus other methods of missions support.

First, Cooperative Program (CP) Missions is coherent rather than chaotic. There is a plan. We are approaching missions purposefully. We ...

I stood in the funeral parlor, staring at the lifeless face of my colleague, and thought to myself, "Yes, it comes to this. All of life, however you choose to live it, ends in death." I was surprised at how morose I was, how overcome by melancholia. Death was so ... well, ... real — so final. No wonder Paul calls death the Last Enemy. But why was I so gripped by this particular death? It seemed to me to be more than ordinary grief. After all, my relationship to this friend, while marked by fraternity, even fondness, was not all that close. Plus, he had lived a long life, healthy right up to the end, had a wonderful family, and had loved and served Jesus. Besides, I had been in situations like this a hundred times and more. I had stood at funerals and faithfully proclaimed the promises of God regarding the death of Christians — and I believe them without reservation. But those promises just didn't seem very comforting right then.

Why? It was existential angs...

An Allegory of Adolescent Despair

The children found themselves in the Haunted Wood. No one knows how they got there. They just were (some say all children go to the Haunted Wood at some time).

The Wood was a very frightening place. The trees were tall and thick and overgrown with vines, so much so that sunlight could barely filter down at all, leaving the wood shadowy and gloomy. And at night! At night, the Wood was pitch black. No reflections were visible. No outlines of figures or faces or fingers could be seen. Nothing. Just darkness.

The children always had plenty to eat and it was always warm. But the terror was endless. The fear of the dark and of becoming separated from one another and of losing their way in the Wood was bad enough. But then they had to contend with the MOLECHS.

The MOLECHS were big, hairy monsters who constantly attacked the children. They were multi-colored with fiery eyes and hot, putrid breath. Their mouths were small but had sharp teeth that looked like saw blades,...

After months of thoughtful study and dialogue with consultants and a wide range of Southern Baptist leaders, the Implementation Task Force has formulated an organizational model for the North American Mission Board. In pursuing its assignment to implement all necessary organizational revisions required by the Covenant for a New Century, the ITF considered structures which delineated the work around geographical regions or which emphasized primary customers (constituencies) or products as the starting point. Committee members were acutely aware of the importance of selecting the best model for the organization. Ted Warren, chief operating officer of the Baptist Sunday School Board and ITF member, said, "No company or organization has a more noble or meaningful mission than the local church and the agencies which seek to assist them."

After considering the alternatives, ITF members determined that the most effective method of organization for NAMB was a process model. This approach begins with the mission statement and builds the organization around the processes (tasks or activities) that contribute to accomplishing that mission. It is a m...

Reflections on Our Times and Tasks

Some say it happened with the election of John F. Kennedy. Others, at his death. Still others argue that it started way before that, perhaps at the Civil War and certainly before World War II. While there is disagreement on whether it has been a long-term, gradual shift or an abrupt one of recent vintage, most agree with the results: America is no longer a Christian culture.

It wasn't always like this. Christians in America used to work and minister from a position of strength and in the context of a Christian world-view where laws and morals and the people themselves reflected familiarity with, and often a commitment to, the precepts of Christianity. That advantage is lost, and now, when we bear witness to Christ in the world, it is often in a setting of antagonism and hostility.

The prophet Daniel, as a young man, faced a dramatic shift in cultural context. He was an exile in one of the first deportations to Babylon from Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and h...