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Articles by James Dotson

Found 35 Articles by James Dotson

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Doing What We're Supposed to Do

When the World Changers crew in Jackson, Mississippi, arrived on Monday morning at their worksite to start roofing a home, their materials had not yet arrived. But with World Changers, the unexpected doesn't always mean that God isn't working.

Rather than just sitting and waiting, the teens went to a nearby YMCA and discovered multiple opportunities for making a difference. Through the relationships they formed, by the end of the week forty children had received Christ.

While that incident was unusual, the principles it illustrates are at the heart of World Changers, which this summer involved 23,672 students and adults in eighty-seven projects in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. While serving at 1,674 separate construction sites and 154 ministry sites, students also saw 1,298 individuals make professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

World Changers is a pre-packaged mission experience sponsored by the North American Mission Board that allows stu...

Editor's Note: The 2004 North American Missions Emphasis includes the Week of Prayer, with suggested dates of March 7-14; the North American Missions Study; and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

There's a reason the description of the United States as a "melting pot" is not used as much these days. Increasingly it has become more of a mosaic, a mesh of distinct culture and ethnic groups that continually find their place in the ever-shifting pattern of national identity.

The hope of Southern Baptist missionaries in this environment — working through the North American Mission Board and its state and local partners — is that one of the bonds holding the mosaic together would be Jesus Christ.

"The World at Our Doorstep," as described in the theme for 2004 North American Missions Emphasis, is more than just ministry to recent immigrants, however. It also touches the diversity of distinct cultures in the United States and Canada, as well as the way that globalization has extended our ability to influence the world from within our own borders.

The following three missi...

Praying for the Light of Christ to Shine on the Big Apple

Nelson Searcy has a dream for the city that he has come to call home, a dream that the prayer support that once flooded New York and its residents in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, would become the norm.

Through New Hope New York in 2004 and 2005, Southern Baptists have their best opportunity for helping make that happen. Searcy serves as coordinator for the effort, part of the North American Mission Board's Strategic Focus Cities initiative to impact major cities with the gospel.

Just as the city now bills itself as the "capital of the world" because of its vast influence in so many areas, "I would like to see New York become the Christian capital of the world," Searcy said.

Rich Carney, a Strategic Focus Cities planner coordinator for NAMB, said the New York effort brings unprecedented possibilities.

"The significance of New York cannot be overstated," he said. "If we can reach the hearts and mi...

Maximizing Church-to-Church Partnerships

Participants in the annual evangelistic effort surrounding the Southern Baptist Convention this June will have opportunities to touch more than just the immediate Phoenix area with the gospel of Christ. This year the whole state is getting involved.

Crossover Arizona will bring block parties, door-to-door visits, and additional innovative evangelistic efforts to the metropolitan Phoenix area June 14 — the Saturday before the June 17-18 convention. The following weekend churches in other parts of the state will sponsor similar events.

Jerry Martin, state coordinator for Crossover Arizona and director of missions for Valley Rim Baptist Association in Mesa, said pairs of Arizona churches will partner with each other on successive weekends. Most of the national volunteers are expected for June 14, although the second weekend does give volunteers more options for both date and location.

"Here in Arizona we see it as a way to ge...

A Massive Southern Baptist Church Planting Effort
The rate of new church development is heating up rapidly in Miami — thanks to Southern Baptist partners from across Florida and the nation. It's happening through For You Miami, the latest manifestation of the North American Mission Board's Strategic Focus Cities (SFC) effort. Miami Baptist Association leaders hope an explosion of new churches — along with associated prayer, evangelism, and leadership development initiatives — will impact the city of 3.5 million people for many years to come.
Planting and Cultivating New Churches in Southeast Arizona

As an associational missionary in Southeastern Arizona, Tommy Stevens knew the small town of Pirtleville needed a Southern Baptist congregation. And all it took for him to see God begin to move was to share that need with a congregation in the nearby Mexican-border city of Douglas.

Deacon Ben Stevens immediately felt called to the work, and for eight months prayed every day at sunrise and sunset, in the middle of the community and at each corner. A home Bible study quickly led to a need for a building.

"I advised him to look for a place in the community, and when he found it, to stand in the middle of it and ask God for it," Tommy Stevens said. "Ben had no more sense than to do as I suggested. Soon he called and said, 'I've found it!'"

The new pastor was so confident that he took out a personal loan for the building and a small mobile home, defying the conventional process for such things. But he eventually got his money back, an...

Affirming the Value and Validity of Bi-vocational Ministry

In the small town of Gladeville, Tenn., more than a thousand people gather every Sunday to hear a pastor who earns his living with a fulltime job elsewhere.

In Oklahoma City, Leon Wilson planted a congregation that grew to 600 members while he operated a used truck sales business. And in Cushing, Okla., Larry Lehr finds dynamic synergy in his dual roles as pastor of the slightly smaller Council Valley Baptist Church and his secular profession as a marketing coordinator for an educational institution in nearby Drumright.

For at least half a century in Southern Baptist life, according to these leaders in bivocational ministry, there has been a perceived pride on behalf of both pastors and churches in what is commonly called "fulltime" ministry — in which the pastor of a church has no other employment. In fact, only 60-65 percent of churches have what bivocational ministers prefer to call "fully funded" pastors.

A modern movement advocatin...

North American Mission Board Celebrates Victories and Opportunities Since the SBC Reorganization

Expectations were high in 1997 when the North American Mission Board (NAMB) was forged out of three previous Southern Baptist entities during the ambitious Covenant for a New Century restructuring. Increased operational efficiencies from the merger were projected to allow Southern Baptists to be more effective than ever in impacting the United States and Canada with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Five years into the venture, those expectations have largely been met, according to agency leaders and others involved in the reorganization. More importantly, new initiatives in evangelism, church planting, and volunteer mobilization have resulted in thousands of transformed lives — and a basis built for continued ministry effectiveness into the future.

"What we wanted to bring to the table was a willingness to look at creative strategies that perhaps hadn't been tried before," said NAMB President Robert E. Reccord. "When opportunities came we said, &#...

A comprehensive prayer strategy might be more ideal than reality for many churches pressured with competing ministries. But it can yield powerful results in the lives of individuals, the church as a whole and the cause of Christ globally, a California prayer evangelism leader said.

Randy McWhorter, director of evangelism for the California Southern Baptist Convention, shared details of a model "Great Commission Prayer Ministry" during the Connection 2002 conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board April 10-13 in Ontario, Calif.

"We can almost capture what God's up to by the volume of prayer that his people are doing," McWhorter said during one of the conference's small-group workshops. "When there is a greater emphasis on prayer, a great desire for prayer among God's people, God's action is not far behind."

While many church prayer ministries are often confined to individual prayer and an intercessory pr...

Crossover St. Louis

Southern Baptists will provide a "Gateway to Hope" June 7-9 as part of Crossover St. Louis, the thirteenth annual evangelism emphasis conducted prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

By mid-March, more than eighty-one local churches in seven associations had committed to participating in the effort, and recruitment is currently underway for hundreds of additional volunteers from other areas.

Benny King, executive director of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said Crossover St. Louis will kick off a summer-long evangelistic emphasis in the area under the banner of "Gateway to Hope."

Some of the highest-profile events during Crossover will be block parties in which local churches and outside volunteers offer food, fun, and entertainment in local communities, along with an opportunity for participants to hear and respond ...