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April 2005 Issue

From the SBC Executive Committee President's Report

February 21, 2005

I am more optimistic about the state of the Convention and the cooperation therein than I have been since coming to this office. My optimism stems not only from the high standards to which the Executive Committee holds itself and the exceptional quality of our work, but also from the growing passion I sense among all entities and throughout the state conventions for being Kingdom people doing Kingdom work, all for God's glory.

Certain ingredients are necessary for this passion to stay the course until it sweeps the Convention and, hopefully, the nation. We have some of these ingredients in common with other conservative evangelicals; others are distinctive to us.

Biblical integrity and doctrinal purity are matters about which we must be forever vigi...

Recounting lessons from his fifty-state bus tour to promote evangelism and cooperation, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch said people in the pews and pulpits are eager for a new challenge with eternal implications — one akin to "an elephant hunt" rather than "chasing squirrels and rabbits and birds."

During stops in each state last fall, Welch typically asked the same questions of the Southern Baptists he encountered. One question was, "Why don't you and others like you come to more convention meetings at the state level and the SBC?

"The answer was always this: 'There is no compelling reason to come to a Southern Baptist Convention,'" Welch told members of the SBC Executive Committee February 21 in Nashville, Tennessee.

A second question he would ask was, "Why do you look outside the SBC for ideas and programs and that sort of thing?" The answer was, "There are many more challen...

The spiritual war Christians are called to fight is not inside the walls of the church but outside where people yearn to hear the gospel, Bobby Welch said at First Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, on March 6.

Welch urged church members to realize they only gather together in order to depart with renewed vigor for the task at hand.

Continuing his speaking tour of churches leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville in June, the SBC president reiterated his message for God's people to leave the comfort zone of the church and spread the gospel on the streets where God is waiting to start a revival.

Welch, a former Green Beret and Vietnam War veteran, said Christians cannot afford to mistake the purpose of the church.

"In military jargon, this church is like a forward operational base," he said in Clarksville, which is home to the Army's 101st Airborne Division. "The forward operational base is ...

If we are going to fulfill the challenge given to us by the resurrected Lord, we must commit to reaching Judea. This is not an option but a mandate. It is a mandate given to the local church. Thus, it is essential that each church think seriously about its strategy to reach Judea. You are probably beginning to suspect that you will need partners for such an ambitious goal. You are correct!

The word Judea means "Jewish." In Ezra 5:8 we find the province of Judah mentioned. The province varied in size according to changing political circumstances, but always included Jerusalem and the surrounding territory. The province of Judah was given the name Judea after the Babylonian exile. Judea extends from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Dead Sea on the east, with its northern boundary at Joppa and its southern boundary just south of Gaza.

A simple glance at a concordance will indicate that the first New Testament mention of Judea is found in Matthew 2:1: Afte...

Your SBC Executive Committee

When you have a Christian body as large as the Southern Baptist Convention, with a structure that fully recognizes and respects the autonomy of the local church, inevitably there will be some who misunderstand the responsibilities and authority of the Convention's entities and committees. Even more concerning, some can mistakenly conclude that the Executive Committee either has more authority than is actually assigned by the Convention, or that it may not have sufficient authority to do what is needed.

In the last two issues of SBC LIFE, we have examined the nature of the Southern Baptist Convention's structure, particularly regarding its entities and committees, and the roles and ministries of the SBC Executive Committee. In this third installment (of four) I would like to address the extent of the ...

The Cooperative Program

Face it — most of us can quote Acts 1:8 forwards and backwards. Throughout the history of Christianity, this passage has served not only as the challenge of evangelism and missions, but it has identified the scope of our evangelism and mission endeavors as well — and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (HCSB). Over the comparatively brief history of the Southern Baptist Convention, we, too, have repeatedly appealed to this foundational command from our Lord and set our denominational course according to this scriptural compass.

This command is foundational to the very existence of the Southern Baptist Convention. It reflects our heritage, our mission, and our passion.

We've all heard countless speakers at annual missions and evangelism conferences who have passionately reminded us that the Lord's mandate just prior to His ascension was not a matter of personal preference — that ...

Delaware Valley Baptist Church has doubled its participation in Cooperative Program (CP) Missions, from 5 to 10 percent to reach people in New Jersey and around the world, and tripled in attendance, from 100 to 300, in the six years since James Betner was called as pastor.

"We believe in the Cooperative Program. We believe that together everybody accomplishes more," Betner said. "... As a first-time pastor, the more I went to [association and state convention] meetings and really understood what we do and how we help churches, missionaries, and pastors, the more I knew we wanted to invest in CP Missions.

"I grew up in a very small church that unfortunately did not have access to the kind of helps the Cooperative Program provides — summer missions workers who will come to you...

A Southern Baptist Pastor, President, Statesman, Mentor, and Model Steps Down

Ginger Hall has been a member of Bellevue Baptist Church for twenty-six years. She's spoken to her pastor, Adrian Rogers, and shaken his hand, exactly twice.

"A lot of people tell me they don't know how I could be a member at a church this big, but I love him," Hall said. "I love Joyce. They're our family."

That was a sentiment shared by thousands over the weekend of March 4-6, 2005, as Bellevue said an emotional goodbye to its pastor after thirty-two years of service. Thousands on Friday night celebrated Rogers' pastorate at Bellevue. Thousands more on Sunday morning heard Rogers preach his last sermon as pastor of the Memphis-area congregation. And on Sunday night, the throngs gathered to bid a final farewell to their beloved leader.

They honored Rogers for being a good shepherd, a faithful preacher, and a wise servant of God. They honored him for his devotion to his family and as a denominational statesman. And they honore...

How many of us become consumed with our problems, difficulties, or life-threatening diseases when they come our way? Below you'll find a very special lady who made a choice to live for Jesus, encourage others, and win souls for as long as He gives her breath.

In January of 2004, I was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer, and my life became a nightmare through chemo treatments. Each month I could do less. I couldn't drive, attend church, mission meetings, evangelism classes, or go on mission trips.

What I could do was continue my daily Bible study and pray. "If I could only witness" became a constant thought. So I prayed to God to send me someone to witness to. My cancer went into remission, but other major health problems became evident.

During the first three weeks of 2005 God sent me, each day, someone to witness to. Sometimes it would be three or four people. Sometimes it was by phone, someone coming to my door, or during one of my i...

When British rule in India ended in the 1940s, a group of social scientists studied its impact on the life of the nation. They discovered after six months of study that many of the villages were not aware that the British had ever been there. The British had been present since the 1600s, but the average Indian villager lived and died without any knowledge that the British had ever been present.

Many times God is active in our lives, but we are not aware of, or tuned in to, His presence directing our lives. We use Him as a crutch in hard times when He should be our commander at all times. Now, imagine that life is like a tall, steep mountain. You want to be on top of the mountain where there is an abundance of good things, but the road to the top is a slow and winding path. My friend, Zig Ziglar, has written a book entitled See You at the Top. As you proceed up this path to the top, there are others along the way.

Recently, there was a 70th class reunion — ther...

Sounding the Alarm on Sexuality and Family Issues

As issues about human sexuality and the definition of family continue to make headlines in the United States, three Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professors have published books calling believers to take strong, biblically defined stands on these important topics.

New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger was assisted by ethicist David Jones in writing God, Marriage and Family, while Daniel Heimbach, an ethics professor, has written True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis. Crossway Books is the publisher of the books by the scholars at Southeastern's Wake Forest, North Carolina, campus.

"While our goal in writing [God, Marriage and Family] is ultimately to facilitate the development of a biblical view of marriage and family [among ...