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June 2007 Issue

Let us pray. "It's our only hope," Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said, reflecting on the prevalence of prayer planned for the SBC's June 12-13 annual meeting in San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Each of the SBC's five sessions will have a prayer focus: Tuesday morning: "Lord, Transform Your Churches." Tuesday afternoon: "Lord, Bring Us to Confession and Repentance." Tuesday evening: "Lord, Unite Us in a Cooperative Mission Task." Wednesday morning: "Lord, Send Revival to Our Convention."

In 2004, the Southern Baptist Convention ended its identification with an alliance that had begun gradually to distance itself from the biblical beliefs of most Southern Baptists and embrace causes and connections that were increasingly liberal. After much prayer and soul-searching the BWA Study Committee made a recommendation to the Executive Committee. The Committee recommended withdrawal of its membership from the BWA, effective October 1, 2004, and encouraged a continued study about how the Southern Baptist Convention might establish an even closer bond of fellowship with conservative evangelical Christians around the world for the purpose of growing in the grace of our Loving Lord, preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, and bringing glory to His name through the advancement of God's Kingdom on earth. In part the recommendation also stated:

That, effective October 1, 2004, the contribution to the Baptist World Alliance heretofore include...

An Interview with Bobby H. Welch
SBC LIFE Dr. Welch, please share with us the scope of your responsibilities. Welch It will be to establish enhanced, intentional relationships with conservative evangelical Christians around the world, as well as here at home, for the purpose of growing, maintaining, and nurturing conservative Baptist evangelical cooperation on a global scale in order to reach more lost souls with the Gospel.
Not long ago I was invited to preach for a good friend who was pastor of a rural church in Morganton, North Carolina. This was the town where my mother lived, and he used this fact as a subtle bit of pressure to get me to come for a revival emphasis. When I drove into the church parking lot, I noticed that much of the land was occupied by a cemetery. This is usually not a good sign when it comes to church growth since it is difficult to park on headstones. My meager expectations were quickly exceeded as the building was filled night after night.

The world's spiritual condition is the most pressing reason for Porter Memorial Baptist Church's commitment to reaching people through Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program. Pointing to the 2 billion people in the world's "10-40 Window" who have little access to the Gospel, senior pastor William Henard said the CP channel for supporting national and international missions and ministry "helps us to see beyond ourselves, to recognize the mission of the church is to reach people."

"Ultimately our mission in life is to glorify God, but we glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commission," the pastor said. "The Cooperative Program helps us to stay focused on looking beyond our four walls."

Henard said his CP commitment started long before he arrived at the Lexington, Kentucky, congregation seven years ago. When he was at a small church early in his ministry, that congregation could support only a few missionaries on a limi...

Reflecting a Church's Missions Commitment

It was no coincidence their greatest gift was also their last.

One million dollars for international missions, given by a congregation of twelve. It is a story as much about change as it is faithfulness, a story that begins in another time — more than half a century ago.

This was the heyday of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in the mill town of Greensboro, North Carolina. Sunlit stained glass greeted the faithful on Sunday mornings as they filled the church's oak pews with their bodies and its cathedral ceiling with their praise. Sinner and saved alike walked the sanctuary's burgundy carpet during revival, at times crowding its balcony to capacity. Church members shared their love for Jesus door to door; neighbors were always kind enough to answer their knock, if not their invitation.

Don Smith was twenty-two years old when he first came to Sixteenth Street Baptist. Now 75, he remembers the pew where he sat and surrendered his life to Christ some fi...

Facing an Historic Moment

In his first official appearance as the North American Mission Board's new president, Geoff Hammond told trustees he believes the board stands at an historic moment and that "God has shown favor on us."

Hammond delivered opening remarks to the forty-four board members at the May 9 meeting, using 1 Samuel 14 — the story of how Saul was outnumbered by the Philistines — as his scriptural theme.

Hammond reminded the trustees of how Saul's band of six hundred was outnumbered and out-armed by thousands of Philistines and that Saul was so overwhelmed that all he thought he could do was gather his troops under some pomegranate trees and wait — not knowing what to do next.

Continuing with the Scripture passage, Hammond noted that Saul's son, Jonathan, stepped out in faith and proceeded to defeat the Philistines even as Saul sat under the pomegranate trees with his soldiers.

"You know what God does in impossible situ...

A True Success Story!

When you pastor a church that's been around since 1842 and has struggled to survive for most of its life, you know dramatic turnarounds are rare. When I came to Hebron Baptist Church twenty-nine years ago, we had an annual budget of $27,000. There was no strategic budget process, and our giving to the Cooperative Program amounted to $600 — only three percent of our budget. We needed better priorities.

We began to work toward giving 10 percent. We also began to grow. Over the last twenty-nine years God has honored Hebron's commitment to reaching the world for Christ through our support of the Cooperative Program.

One Sunday this past year, I mentioned the possibility of giving $1 million to the Cooperative Program, perhaps within two or three years. I didn't say any more. Right after that we began the four-week, study Road to Financial Freedom from Crown Financial Ministries, now offered within our Convention as It's a New Day for Financial...

Speaking from experience, both literally and figuratively, Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, advised a seminary audience what they should do amid the storms of life.

Storms will come to everyone, regardless of station in life, profession, or age.

"To be honest with you...my concern this morning is not that we have storms," Luter said April 17 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. "My concern this morning is not that we have troubles and trials and tribulations in life .... But my concern, Southeastern, is what do we do when the storm comes. How do we deal as pastors, as preachers, as professors, as denominational workers, as students — how do we deal with tough times in life?

"Many of us still do not know what to do when the storms of life are raging."

Luter examined the effects the storms of life have on believers and gave examples from his own mini...

The Things We Accept, But God Forbids; Part One: Temper

You've probably seen it before — the pastor is bearing a heavy load; he's under a lot of pressure from a myriad of sources, and he has been for some time. A staff member catches him at a weak moment, rubbing him the wrong way, and bam! He explodes, yelling at the man, unleashing all that pent-up rage and frustration, and reducing the poor soul to a humiliated, quivering heap.

A few minutes later everything is fine, as if nothing ever happened. He might offer a token apology, but everyone knows "that's just his personality." It has happened before, and it will certainly happen again, so everyone just has to learn to get used to it.

When he gets home, the kids are running through the house like wild animals and it grates on him. At the supper table, seven-year-old Danny starts acting like a seven-year-old again, and he carelessly knocks his milk over. This shepherd blows up all over Danny and the rest of his kids, letting them know just how sick ...

The first Baptist association in America will mark its 300th anniversary in September, and Southern Baptists will join in the celebration at a special associational missions rally June 10 prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in San Antonio. The rally, which will promote the continuing need for associational work, will be held at San Antonio's First Baptist Church.

Founded in 1707, the Philadelphia Baptist Association — now affiliated with the American Baptist Churches (USA) — has assisted countless churches in starting, developing, growing, and extending the Gospel through a unified message and effort. Today, however, the constituency that the Philadelphia association reaches is vastly different. They are no longer mostly white and scattered across the countryside as they were in the Colonial era.

James McJunkin Jr., executive minister for the association, said the churches that make up this American Baptist region are ethnically a...

Making the Most of Common Moments

My Dad was a master at making the most of common moments. For instance, I will never forget the lesson he taught me as part of Christmas 1968. In case you are wondering, I was only seven years old!

As I remember it, my Mom had been very ill with a near fatal kidney disease. In turn, my Dad was working an extra job at Western Auto to try to pay off nearly $30,000 in medical debts. It was Christmas Eve, and I just happened to be at the store when I was called to the stockroom. Dad instructed me to load up our car with a large stack of toys he had secured from the stockroom.

A short time later, I rode with Dad back home ... still wondering about the toys. As we pulled into our subdivision, Dad took a different route and ended up at a house on the street behind ours. I will never forget the look on our neighbor's face when Dad went to the door and informed this newly-divorced mother, who was impoverished with no hope of purchasing toys for her three kids that Christmas is...

I had phoned a gifted young pastor for whom I had been a mentor and casually asked, "How's it going?" I was shocked by his reply: "You know, I'm not at the church anymore!" Everything changed. With one sentence my role had changed from affirming cheerleader to comforting friend.

I had told his church when they were considering his call that he was a gifted evangelistic pastor and he would be suitable only if they had growth potential they desired to fulfill. They assured me that growth was their priority.

My friend had been there only three and a half years. The church had great growth, baptizing over two hundred new converts and increasing from less than one hundred to over three hundred in weekly attendance. All of that came to a screeching halt when cries of "We want our little church back!" were answered.

Now they have their little church back, along with a large new building and heavy debt. In the aftermath were left a ...

The Real Story Behind the 20/20 Segment

Much is being done and more can be done to protect children from sexual predators within Southern Baptist churches, but an ABC News 20/20 segment on the issue April 13 amounted to "yellow journalism," SBC President Frank Page says.

The segment focused on child sexual predators within Protestant churches, focusing on ten to twenty occurrences within Southern Baptists' forty thousand churches. In introducing the sixteen-minute segment, 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas said, "What surprised us ... is how little is being done to stop it." ABC's Jim Avila used the term "preacher predators." The segment spotlighted a youth pastor who sexually abused minors at a church in Kentucky, and then moved on to a Missouri church and did the same.

Avila interviewed Page for roughly two hours recently, but in the end used just a few seconds of the interview, and Page said, left out what the denomination is doing to address the problem.

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It's a winding, nine-hour car trip from Greencastle, Pennsylvania (pop. 3,700), down to Lynch, Kentucky (pop. 900). But Fred and Nicole Smith, their two kids, and grandma Theresa Farson don't mind. They have driven it once and, this July, they'll drive it again.

During the Fourth of July weekend, when many American families will be trekking through amusement parks or to the beach, the Smith clan will be sharing the Gospel, hammering boards, installing siding, painting, cleaning, or maybe baking.

It will be the second straight year for the three generations to participate in a mission through the North American Mission Board's Families on Mission initiative.

"The economy in Lynch is so poor, and the people there are so needy," Nicole Smith said. "It was such an eye-opening experience for our kids and even for us adults. We got a bigger blessing from the people down there than they received from us."

Smi...

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President Jeff Iorg will present the seminary's Distinguished Alumni Award to Henry Deneen, newly-elected president of Greater Europe Mission, at the school's Alumni & Friend Luncheon on June 13.

The luncheon will be held at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, in Room 008 A/B of the Gonzalez Convention Center's river level.

Deneen, a native of South Carolina, earned a master of divinity from Golden Gate in 2000. He will begin serving as president of Greater Europe Mission, an evangelical mission agency, in September.

Iorg will report on the seminary's ongoing Partners for the Future campaign and relay news from the seminary, including the new Ph.D. studies to begin this fall.

Tickets, at $10 per person, may be purchased before the annual meeting by calling S...

It's no secret — baptisms are down for the second year in a row. "What can be done?" they ask. "This is horrible and embarrassing," they say. Simple response: All we have to do is what the Lord commanded us to do ... GO! Don't wait for them to show up, but go to them. In order to go, it certainly helps to be trained. The good news is that many are now doing just that, and the Lord has blessed them.

First Baptist Church of Panama City, Florida, is a great example of a church doing all they can, where they are, for the cause of Christ and the lost. Consider their story from their pastor, Dr. Craig Conner.

First Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida, is definitely a "FAITH" church. As I write this article, we are about to begin our twenty-third semester. As the senior pastor of First Baptist, God convicted me several years ago that we needed to become more intentional in our evangelism.

And yes, I am blessed to hav...

There was a time in history when names meant more than they do to us today. We just don't take names seriously. After the Civil War a group of wealthy businessmen started an insurance company and wanted to use Robert E. Lee's name. They would pay him a comfortable salary, and he wouldn't have to do any work! What he discovered is that they just wanted to use his name. General Lee responded to them, "Gentlemen, I have nothing left but my name, and that is not for sale." He knew that power and reputation are part of a name.

Escaped convict Sylvan Carter had been free for twenty-eight years when he turned himself in to authorities. When asked why he did so, he stated he wanted his own name on his own tombstone. He was tired of living a lie.

In the Old Testament, names and essence are intertwined. The Third Commandment is about God's Name: Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. In ancient times, they revered the name of God because using...

Coalition to Advocate Environmental Balance

A coalition of evangelical Christians from various fields is preparing public policy recommendations designed not only to foster stewardship of the environment but to promote economic progress.

The newly named Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation has announced that a task force will be addressing the areas of "poverty and development" and "climate and energy" with policy proposals based on the biblical principles included in an earlier document.

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Stephen Livesay, president of Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, were introduced as co-chairmen of the task force.

With the announcement in Washington, the Cornwall Alliance, formerly known as the Inte...