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October 1999 Issue

Cooperation: Key to Church Planting

Two "Nehemiah Project" church planting professors were appointed in August at Southern Baptist seminaries in California and Canada, completing the initial implementation of the North American Mission Board's seminary-based plan for training and mentoring church starters.

Colorado church planter D. Allan Karr was named Nehemiah Project professor at Golden Gate Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., while Ian Buntain will direct the program at Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta. They joined Nehemiah Project professors at the other five Southern Baptist seminaries already appointed as both seminary faculty and NAMB missionaries.

The Nehemiah Project is a partnership between NAMB, the seminaries, and state conventions designed to train and mentor church planters through a combination of classroom instruction and extended internships. Two groups of church planter interns already have been appointed as NAMB missionaries through the program, whi...

"This Nehemiah Project couldn't come at a more opportune time in our convention's history. We're not interested in simply building an institution. We feel like we have a purpose, and that is to develop as many leaders as our convention needs to lead our churches."
Richard Blackaby
Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary

"The Nehemiah program is so smart, so anointed, that we scratch our heads, asking how in the world we didn't do this earlier. Enormous credit goes to Bob Reccord and his folks at NAMB for this bold initiative. It's perfectly to the point of what we're tryin...

Churches that take the Great Commission seriously had better start reaching out to people with purple hair and nose rings, according to Alvin Reid, associate professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.

"We tend to look at our churches as hotels for saints, not hospitals for sinners, and consequently we are not reaching the radically unchurched culture," Reid said during an evangelism seminar at the National Conference for Church Leadership in August at Ridgecrest (N.C.), a LifeWay Conference Center.

Reid defined the radically unchurched as Americans who "have no clear personal understanding of the message of the gospel and who have had little or no contact with a Bible-teaching, Christ-honoring church."

In other words, he said, many of the 41 percent of the American population considered radically unchurched have never set foot inside a church - not for weddings, not for funerals, not for Christmas or Easter.

When Man Redefines Truth

Few of us would regard a shark-attack movie as a catalyst for theological reflection. For instance, this summer's horror flick, Deep Blue Sea, told of sharks accidentally altered in genetic experiments resulting in genius predators who invent their own ways to capture their human prey. Not much theologizing there.

But consider the grandfather of all shark movies, the film that frightened a generation of vacationers right out of the ocean, Steven Speilberg's 1975 classic, Jaws (think Jurassic Park, but with fish). In this earlier film, the small resort of Amity Island was terrorized by a Great White, until Chief of Police Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) set out to hunt and kill the shark.

Early in the picture, Brody and Hooper are engaged in a midnight search for the menacing shark in the waters off Amity Island. As they cruise, they chat about their respective occupations and mo...

Saudi Arabia is the world's most repressive country for Christians, according to a report by an organization that ministers to the persecuted church.

Open Doors International rated the Middle East regime first in a top ten dominated by Islamic-controlled countries. Saudi Arabia easily outdistanced all other countries for the top spot with a rating of 81.5 in ODI's July report.

The other top ten members, in order with point totals, are Afghanistan, 72.5; Sudan, 70; China, 69; Yemen, 66.5; Morocco, 64; Iran, 63; Libya, 62.5; Tunisia, 62; and Egypt, 60.

Congress recently has targeted Sudan for special attention.

On July 27, Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., introduced the Sudan Peace Act in an attempt, with bipartisan support, to change the United States' policy toward the East African country. The bill calls for wider distribution of food outside the United Nations system; an improved peace process to end a lengthy civil war that escalated a decade ago; human...

Just days after the school year began at Columbine High School, a subsidiary of The Disney Company was premiering a film portraying the kidnapping of a teacher by three students.

After last April's mass murder at the suburban Denver school, Miramax Films postponed the May release of Killing Mrs. Tingle. The Disney subsidiary then changed the film's title to Teaching Mrs. Tingle and slated its premiere for Aug. 20.

The plot, described by one reviewer as a "black comedy," involves a would-be valedictorian whose chance for a college scholarship may be ruined by her history teacher's accusation of cheating. Miramax's Internet site calls the film "wicked," while an advertisement in the Aug. 15 Los Angeles Times promises, "This Friday, three students are about to get even with the teacher from hell."

"Just about the time we think we've pushed the envelope we push it a little further," said Darrell ...

The Dangers of Violating God's Design

Living together before marriage can be detrimental to future relationships and ultimately the stability of marriage, according to a report released Feb. 3 by the National Marriage Project based at Rutgers.

"Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage" analyzed the latest research on changing trends in nonmarital cohabitation and the relationships between cohabitation, marriage, and social and economic well-being.

"Living together before marriage seems like a harmless, or even progressive family trend until you look at the evidence," explained report co-author David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at Rutgers.

Some of the report's key findings:

• Living together before marriage increases the risk of breaking up after marriage.

• Living together outside of marriage increases the risk of domestic violence for women, and the risk...

How Can They Do That?

Questions are often asked about Southern Baptists' claim that 100 percent of all gifts given to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund are used for hunger with nothing taken out for administration or promotion. The answer is really quite simple.

Because Southern Baptists already have missionaries and volunteers on the field, the costs of administration are already covered. Those missionaries receive their support through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for home missions. The costs of promotion are paid through the Cooperative Program.

Many private charities spare no expense to project images of starving children into our living rooms. Meanwhile, an army of Southern Baptists missionaries and volunteers are hard at work doing that for which funds were given.

The distinctives of Southern Baptist hunger ministries are worth noting:

• 100 percent of all gifts...

Every state convention and SBC agency has committed to participate in the 75th anniversary celebration of the Cooperative Program, Partners in the Harvest. Each one is busily finalizing their plans. Here are progress reports from four states. If you have ideas you would like to share with other states and pastors, please submit them to the Executive Committee Cooperative Program Office.

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Dr. Anthony L. Jordan, Executive Director

David Waganer, Cooperative Program Director

The Partners in the Harvest theme, which celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Cooperative Program, is an excellent illustration of the great commission. We are using the Partners artwork for our state budget ...

Classroom Victory in the Battle for Truth

The Kansas State Board of Education's decision Aug. 11 to reject the theory of evolution as the central thread of biological studies could go a long way toward unraveling the scientific community's case for the origin of life, says a Southern Baptist professor of Christian theology.

Hal N. Ostrander, associate dean and professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's James P. Boyce College of the Bible, Louisville, Ky., and a biblical creationist, said the long-supported evolution theory is being dismantled slowly by an argument for "intelligent design" the theory that life came about intentionally and not by chance because it's too complex to be explained any other way.

"This triumph for anti-evolutionary forces in the Kansas schools may herald great changes ahead, probably making it all the more difficult to sustain the cherished evolutionary paradigm as a unifying scientific concept not only in Kansas but elsewhere too,&qu...

Boy Scouts Under Assault

America's parents are about to discover that the culture war is a lot closer than they thought. The ruling of the New Jersey Supreme Court ordering the Boy Scouts to accept homosexuals as members and troop leaders is an open assault upon one of the nation's most cherished and respected organizations.

The Aug. 4 ruling should send chills down the spines of all those who once believed an organization as wholesome and traditional as the Boy Scouts would be beyond the reach of the moral revolutionaries determined to enshrine homosexuality as a fully legitimate, fully moral lifestyle. The impact of the decision will be massive.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), scouting's national organization, is left with only the hope of a reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court. Though the decision covers only the scouting program in New Jersey, the legal precedent is disastrous and will be a public relations nightmare for an organization that lives by its reputation for trustworthiness, whole...

Right there at table number 3 in Burger King, he accepted the Lord as his Savior."

That's Jim Bunch, 50, talking about a stepdad he met as a result of a ministry Bunch started this spring at Trinity Baptist Church in Clarkston, Wash. That stepdad has since been baptized and is an active member at the small downtown church.

"We reaped the harvest that somebody else sowed, but the Lord couldn't have led him to us without the horseback riding ministry," Bunch said. "Without it, it would have been a missed opportunity."

The idea of providing horseback rides for city kids took root in his mind in God's timing, Bunch said - during the years he and his wife and family did not attend church.

"We never quit being Christian; we just quit being faithful," Bunch admitted. As he tells the story, they were on a vacation trip when a friend invited them to attend a midweek prayer meeting.

"God just beat me around the h...

What Makes a Culture Cry?

JFK Jr.'s tragic death has left me bewildered at the whole issue of public grief. I have given my crowded mind much space in the attempt to sort through what makes cultures cry. I have lived through the deaths and interments of many prominent world leaders, beginning with the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945. I remember this specifically for we did not have a radio and having heard it on a neighbor's radio, I had the unlovely task of taking the news home to my mother, an ardent Roosevelt fan. She was shocked by the president's death and told me that "if I was lying to her she would beat me to death." Alas, the awe and fear her threat inspired in me! Being eight years old, I was not much of a Roosevelt fan, but I do remember hoping that I had heard the radio report correctly, since my mother had made it clear that if Roosevelt was not dead, I would be for reporting him so.

In the next years I would live through the assassination deaths of Mahatma Gandhi, JFK, Mar...

When Rumors Run Wild

In recent months an email message has circulated suggesting the president of Proctor and Gamble appeared on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, at which time he supposedly declared his membership in the church of satan. The email message then calls for a boycott of all related products.

However, a visit to the Proctor and Gamble web site (, reveals a letter from the Sally Jessie Raphael Show that denies this rumor. In fact, the site posts letters from Dr. Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, denying the rumor's validity.

The web site for the Sally Jesse Raphael Show also addresses the rumored episode. Answering a related inquiry, Raphael responded, "... THIS IS A HOAX ... it never ...

(Misteak or Masterpeace?)

We all make mistakes. That's why there are erasers on pencils, reverse gears in cars, delete keys on computers, U-turns on our roads, and summer school options in our schools.

One of my favorite presidents was Gerald Ford. One reason I liked him was because he was a lousy golfer. There was always a clip on the news of people being hit by his golf ball. He was so bad at golf, when he hit a shot, they yelled, "eight," instead of "fore." His mistakes weren't restricted to the golf course, however. One day he arrived at Orly airport in France in front of 800 elite French troops in their uniforms and the entire diplomatic corp with the President of France, Pompidou. Ford stepped out of the plane, waved to the crowd, and tumbled down the stairs. A tissue is offered and declined and the story continues. He got up, laughed, brushed off his clothes, strolled forward with a big smile, and firmly took the arm of the man standing next to Pompidou, who was the Spanish ambassado...