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June 2005 Issue

The Music City is no stranger to Southern Baptists, and this June, Nashville will host thousands of messengers and their family members who will gather for ministry, evangelism, worship, and to conduct the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The focus of the two-day meeting, June 21-22, will be the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge, a bold emphasis that has the goal of winning to Christ and baptizing one million people in one year. This denomination-wide goal for evangelism is the vision of SBC President Bobby Welch.

Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, went on a bus tour last year and visited Southern Baptist churches in all fifty states and Canada to underscore the importance of evangelism. Video vignettes from that trip, featuring the testimonies of Southern Baptists, will be shown at the annual meeting.

"I think we have the potential of having one of the most thrilling meetings we've had in a long...

It is difficult for us to get our mind around "The Ends of the Earth." It is such a vast concept that it often seems nebulous or even overwhelming. Statistics seldom move us to activity. The fact that there are 1.65 billion people on the planet that have little or no access to the gospel can cause us to gasp with awe, but it fails to stimulate response. When we compare 1.65 billion with the population of America, somewhere around 300 million, we are so staggered by the enormity of the task that we find it easy to remain unconcerned and unengaged both individually and as a church.

But Kingdom people cannot be apathetic when they understand God's desire is that every tribe, tongue, and nation would have the opportunity to know Him as rightful King. All of Scripture points to God's concern for th...

There has been a great deal of emphasis in our Convention recently regarding church planting. The International Mission Board is talking about it. The North American Mission Board is talking about it. Our seven Southern Baptist seminaries offer courses in church planting and have professors of church planting. Our state conventions are talking about it. Our associations are talking about it. Some of our churches are even involved in planting churches. We are the largest non-Catholic, Christian denomination in the world. We consist of more than 16.2 million members and more than forty-three thousand churches. Do we really need another Southern Baptist church?

Let's consider the evidence, and you can decide.

Biblical Evidence

In Matthew 28 and Acts 1, Jesus commanded His followers to go and make disciples throughout the entire world. As they went on mission, they were to baptize and teach. The book of Acts s...

Have you ever been to an Amish community? The first time I visited an Amish village it seemed as though I had stepped through a time portal into a world two centuries old. I watched people pass in a horse and buggy, observed white barns and quaint homes, and clothing that seemed to come from a Norman Rockwell painting. Notably absent were modern conveniences, from electricity to automobiles.

If you lived in the early 17th century in America, the Amish community would not stand out the way it does in our day. In fact, most communities looked a lot like contemporary Amish villages. But something has happened from then until now. A world of cities and interstate highways, computers and electronics, and transportation via cars, trucks, and airplanes look nothing like the colonial days.

"Today most Americans who know anything about the Amish culture have a measure of respect for it," observed California pastor Steve Davidson.1 Then he added, &q...

Many Southern Baptist pastors have labored hard to bring their churches into the "contemporary" age. As some of these pastors rounded the final bend of outfitting their sanctuaries with theatre seats, plasma screens, and drums, they were greeted only by news that the relevant church had left the contemporary building. The relevant church is now "emerging," they have been told — it is post-modern, post-contemporary, post-traditional, post-denominational, post-liberal/conservative, and a host of other post-s.

The "emerging church" is concerned (among other things) with relating Christianity to the outside world. They are disturbed with a certain "showiness" and "institutionalism" in contemporary churches that panders, they believe, to a consumerist, individualistic culture. They see a place for quietness, reverence, art, liturgy, and tradition in worship. They believe that Christians have made a grave mistake in withdrawing fro...

Unsure how I, a former homosexual, received an invitation to speak two consecutive weeks to a gay/lesbian organization at a major university, I readily accepted. I arrived well ahead of time to mingle with the students, shake hands, and get to know them.

Though I felt like a ham at a bar mitzvah, I shared with the twenty-five to thirty homosexuals how, from an early age, I felt "different"; how, upon reaching puberty, I was attracted to other men; and how, after eleven years of homosexual activity, I told God, "It's over! Homosexuality is an illusion, a dead end! Homosexuality promises a lot, but delivers little!" I told them homosexuality was a sin, immoral, and that God punishes sin.

For ninety minutes I shared my story and answered many questions — some of which were mildly discourteous and others overtly rude.

No sooner had the meeting ended, several homosexual men and women, most with puzzled expressions on their faces, app...

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers; Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." ~ Matthew 4:18-19

Serving as a professor of evangelism and North American church planting involves considerable travel. And my students are not surprised to see me arriving in their town with fly rod in hand. People may think that I love to fish; actually I am doing research. In a previous article I explained how I had learned many truths about sin from fishing, but fishing contains more lessons than just those on sin. After all, everything I need to know about evangelism I learned fishing. Here are several theological insights from my field research.

You have to know what you want to catch and where they are.

I have caught everything from trout the size of minnows to halibut ov...

Addressing a capacity crowd of more than 260, Atlanta-area pastor Johnny Hunt said pastors and Christian leaders need a "whatever it takes" mentality toward ministry during "The Shepherd and His Sheep" conference, April 12, at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, said helping pastors and ministers is one of his top goals in ministry, behind evangelizing the lost and discipling believers.

"I want to help pastors to succeed," Hunt said. "I want to empower them, to encourage them to make a difference for God's Kingdom."

Midwestern president, Dr. R. Philip Roberts, said Hunt's presence on the Kansas City campus did just that.

"The conference was an outstanding event," Roberts said. "Johnny Hunt is an exceptional pastoral leader, and we were honored to have him lead us in such an effective and encouraging experience."

LeaderLife The LeaderLife luncheon is at 11:45 a.m., Monday, June 20, in the East and Central ballrooms of the Nashville Renaissance Hotel. Guest speaker Tom Elliff will speak on "Healthy Marriage, Healthy Ministry." For more information, contact Henry Webb at (615) 251-3639 or e-mail

Southern Baptist messengers visiting Nashville for the annual meeting in June will have the opportunity to tour the LifeWay Christian Resources buildings and the Southern Baptist Convention building, which is home to the Executive Committee, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Southern Baptist Foundation, and Seminary Extension.

Tours of both buildings will be conducted June 18-22 (Saturday through Wednesday):

LifeWay buildings — June 18 from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; June 19 from 1:00-5:00 p.m., and June 20-22 from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

SBC building — June 18 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; June 19 from 1-5 p.m., and June 20-22 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Visitors to the SBC building will have an opportunity to view a fifteen-minute film, shown every half hour, chronicling early Southern Baptist history. Guides will lead visitors through a historical display of rare holdings of the Southern Bapt...

Making Disciples in the Home

There is a troubling contradiction between what is preached from the pulpits and what is practiced in the marriages of many pastors today. Because pastors handle God's Word weekly, if not daily, it seems we would be especially sensitive to the passages pertaining to marriage. We study those passages, and even preach from them in our annual sermon series on the family. We are careful to exegete and explain the verses, making sure we give proper attention to husbands' and wives' responsibilities to each other. We know and understand what God expects of us as husbands.

The tragedy is that we so often and easily forget to apply these passages to our own marriages.

A representative of LeaderCare for LifeWay Christian Resources concluded, after years of conferences and consultations with pastors and their families, that 80 percent of pastors' wives are unhappy with their marriage. They consistently reported that they feel they must compete with the church for th...

It's time to do something about all of the Darwinism in our evangelical churches.

No, I'm not talking about church members holding to the ideology of natural selection put forward by Charles Darwin's infamous Origin of Species. Instead, I mean the ways in which we inadvertently pick up the "Survival of the Fittest" mentality — and put it to work in our evangelism, our missions, and our congregational business meetings.

Darwin, you will remember, suggested that nature is rigged toward the winners. Nature is red in tooth and claw, a struggle for survival in which only the strongest are left to propagate their seed. From the very beginning of the Darwinian era, Christians recognized that our problems with evolution aren't just about the historicity of Genesis (although that would be enough). The problems include a worldview that can't make sense of the Sermon on the Mount — in which the last are first, the first are last, and ...

The life and presidency of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's William "Bill" O. Crews was celebrated April 12 at a retirement dinner attended by trustees, faculty, staff, and friends.

Crews served as president from 1986 to 2003. During that time, more than 2,500 seminary graduates served as Christian leaders or missionaries in thirty countries around the world.

"The word 'leadership' defines Bill Crews," current seminary president Jeff Iorg said, adding that Crews has been a mentor and friend to him for many years.

Iorg told those in attendance Crews deserves the accolades he has received. He said Crews comforted him when he was seriously ill and "helped me learn the things that were happening in the Southern Baptist Convention." Iorg told Crews, "You have been a constant source of confidence and stability during the transition to a new administration."

"Thank you for a remarkable legacy,&...

The one thing that was so evident during my "Everyone Can" Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism bus trip was that evangelism in all parts of the country is the same ... if you get out of the church and into the homes with a genuine concern, you can reach people for Christ. Our families, as well as our friends, desperately need this. Below are a few testimonies from Pastor Bob Ford of East Side Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, that "Everyone Can." It's contagious — try it!

Bob was on the team last week that led a young man in his early twenties to the Lord. When he returned home that evening, Bob shared his joy and excitement with his wife and told her the story of how the Lord had worked in the visit. Their ten-year-old son, Stephen, tuned into the conversation and became very interested. Later in the week, a family friend died unexpectedly, and Stephen was especially disturbed by the news and began asking his dad about death and eternity. Bob...

A geologist studying the strata of rock under St. Paul's Cathedral in London reported that the church building is moving down Fleet Street at the rate of one inch every one thousand years. Someone commented that the church ought to move faster than that.

How fast is your church moving?

I'm reminded of the old story about two New York city slickers who tired of life in the city and bought a West Texas ranch. They wanted to live like their ancestors. These New Yorkers asked their neighboring rancher if he had a mule for sale. He didn't, but they started chatting and the slickers noticed some honeydew melons piled up against the barn. They asked what they were, and the rancher decided to have a little fun. He told them that they were mule eggs and if they wanted to buy one, it would hatch, and they would have a mule. The asking price was fifty dollars. Boy, what a deal!

During the bumpy ride back to their ranch, the mule egg bounced right out of the tru...

Zambian President Receives Christ and is Baptized at Local Church

The president of Zambia, in acknowledging his faith in Jesus Christ, recently was baptized in a public service, Southern Baptist missionaries report.

A crowd clapped and cheered as President Levy Mwanawasa (mwah-nah-WAH-sah) rose from the water in an outdoor baptistery behind a Baptist seminary chapel in Lusaka, Zambia's capital. The event drew hundreds of people, including public officials, leaders, and pastors from the area and neighboring countries.

"This baptism was an incredible occasion for the Baptist witness to many people who we have not had in church before," said Tr...