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April 2008 Issue

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Executive Committee members he believes the calling of the Convention is to have a singular focus on seeing people come to faith in Christ.

Page, during his address February 18 in Nashville, Tennessee, read from what he called the obscure passage of Acts 19:13-16, which tells of the seven sons of Sceva — itinerant Jewish exorcists — who attempted to pronounce the name of Jesus over a man with an evil spirit.

The evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize — but who are you?" the passage states. Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.

Page, saying he has been fascinated by the passage for years, commented on how the demons knew Jesus.

"That's not hard to figure out, is it? Because the demons knew the Son of God,&quo...

The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee voted February 18 to give $100,000 to help Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, rebuild from the devastating tornado that wrecked the campus almost two weeks earlier.

The vote came on the first evening of the group's two-day meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

"The officers of the Executive Committee discussed this last night," chairman Bill Harrell of Augusta, Georgia, told Union President David Dockery as he presented the check. "We knew what the heart of Southern Baptist people is on a subject like this. We want to give you a gift to help you put the campus back in first-class condition."

"We are very, very grateful for your kindness and generosity to us in this moment of need at Union University," Dockery replied. "This is my first time away from the University in thirteen days, and it has been thirteen days like we never could have imagined.

"I jus...

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee members approved a 2008-09 Cooperative Program Allocation budget of $205,716,834 for recommendation to the SBC during its June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

The budget continues traditional allocations to the Convention's ministries, including 50 percent of receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board. The percentage allocated to the seminaries is 21.92 percent, up from 21.4 percent last year.

According to the seminary funding formula, Southwestern Seminary would receive 4.81 percent (up from 4.80 percent); Southern Seminary, 4.98 percent (up from 4.80 percent); New Orleans Seminary, 4.41 percent (up from 4.35 percent); Southeastern Seminary, 4.15 percent (up from 4.13 percent); Golden Gate Seminary, 1.81 percent (up from 1.74 percent); and Midwestern Seminary, 1.77 percent (up from 1.57 percent). Cumulative numbers may not match the sum of individual seminary ...

Fifty-one students were treated for injuries and nine were kept overnight in a local hospital after a tornado wreaked havoc on the campus of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee on February 5.

All students were accounted for and, while some of the injuries were serious, none were life threatening, Union President David S. Dockery said in a news conference early the next morning.

The men's and women's residential complexes were almost completely destroyed, and the roof was torn off a main academic building, Dockery said. He recalled a 2002 tornado that struck the campus, causing $2.6 million in damage, and said this one was "fifteen times worse than that."

Twelve students were trapped in residence halls by storm damage, but the vast majority of the estimated one thousand ...

"It was very emotional at Union" the day after the tornado, said Josh Clarke, immediate past president of the Student Government Association.

"There were hugs, prayers, and tears everywhere as students were coming back to campus and roommates were seeing each other for the first time since last night. There were tears of joy for surviving."

The daylight also revealed the full extent of the destruction wrought by the February 5 tornado throughout the Baptist-affiliated campus in Jackson, Tennessee.

An estimated 40 percent of the campus dormitories were destroyed, and another 40 percent were severely damaged, along with several of Union's academic buildings.

Clarke, now Union's pharmacy admissions coordinator, was buoyed by the outpouring of concern acros...

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, asked Southern Baptists to support Union University with their prayers and with a special offering after the Baptist-affiliated school suffered extensive damage from a tornado February 5.

"The vast amount of damage — perhaps as much as $50 million — leaves the institution in a desperate situation immediately," Page said in a statement February 8. "I am calling on Southern Baptists to prayerfully consider giving a love offering to this dear institution." On one of the next several Sundays, Page said, "I pray that we would give sacrificially and lovingly to a part of our family ... which needs our assistance."

Most of Union's student housing buildings were destroyed or severely damaged, and at least ...

Cross Lanes Baptist Church

Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, "holds the rope" for missions through the Cooperative Program, senior pastor Seth Polk says.

Expanding on the familiar description of Southern Baptist missions, Polk said of the Cooperative Program, "It's not the only way to do missions, but I believe it's the best way."

Southern Baptist churches "can accomplish more together as the body of Christ than we can alone," the pastor said. "The Cooperative Program is a proven way for churches of like faith to cooperate together to accomplish God's agenda."

Polk, who is completing the fifth year of his second pastorate in ten years of fulltime ministry, described Cross Lanes Baptist as "a c...

I have been privileged to pastor a number of wonderful churches filled with godly men and women who love the Lord. I have learned numerous lessons from those with whom I have been privileged to serve. One evening I learned an invaluable lesson about the sufficiency of Scripture from a layman who was my visitation partner.

We were following up with a home visit to a couple who had expressed interest in joining the church. The woman and the man had filled out visitor cards with the same address but with a different last name. The gentleman was not present, and the young lady was a bit nervous during our visit. It was obvious she was concerned about her present living conditions and wanted a little free counseling. My friend indicated that we would be willing to stay as long as necessary to help her deal with is...

Southern Baptists have long been strong advocates of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists

What would you think of a church that completely ignored God's gift of teachers?

What if that church never listened to the Word of God preached in a worship service, heard the Word of God discussed in a Sunday School class, or allowed a seasoned leader to guide it through some of the Bible's deep truths in a discipleship training session?

Most Southern Baptists would call such a church spiritually deprived and demand that it begin to use God's provision of teachers for the sake of its spiritual health.

Yet, according to Brian Fossett, an evangelist from Dalton, Georgia, many churches are making just as deadly a mistake by neglecting the gift of the evangelist, and they don't even realize what they're missing out on.

A God-called evangelist can help revive a church by harvesting souls for Christ and encouraging weary leadership, he said.

"Not using an evangelist is like not opening a gift on Christmas morning," F...

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Southern Baptists have a long and storied history of speaking to the culture from a biblical perspective.

In 1907, the Southern Baptist Convention established the Committee on Civic Righteousness, "to consider and counsel together as to what may best be done by Christian men and ministers, especially Baptists, for creating a more wholesome public opinion; for making the criminal laws more certain, more prompt, and more effective; so as to take away the reproach resting on civilization and religion by the prevalence of crimes and lynchings."

That initial endeavor to engage the culture has evolved, if we dare use that word, into the Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which today addresses a wide range of social, moral, and public policy issues — from human needs to the need for racial reconciliation to the necessity to safeguard our right of religious expression.

Messengers to the 1907 Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond,...

Why is it that the hardest people to share the Gospel with are usually our own family members? We have a burden for them, we love them, and we can even be trained to share our faith with them. So what's the problem? Does Satan know where we live or what? I suspect it is the fear of rejection. But we must understand that rejection is nothing compared to the reality of hell. It all boils down to that simple fact.

Now be encouraged as you read the testimony of Tammy Gaede from North Greenwood Baptist Church in Greenwood, Mississippi, where Jim Phillips is pastor.

I flew down to Florida for my grandfather's 102nd birthday with a mission in mind: to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with him. While my parents were waiting for others to arrive, my grandfather was sitting outside enjoying God's glorious creation, so I went outside to join him. I knew this had to be the day.

We started talking, and I asked about what he thought were some of th...

I travel around the country telling people that their attitude is either their best friend or worst enemy. It isn't the position in life; it's the disposition. Now I'm not one of those positive blab it and grab it guys. I do tell everyone that it's a fallen world, that Murphy was an optimist, and that there will always be people trying to blow out the light at the end of the tunnel. I even tell them that every day the world rolls over on someone who is sitting on top of it. I just wasn't expecting it to be me.

I'm a guy who doesn't have to deal with deacons' committees or business meetings. All I have to do is show up, preach, and leave. Then IT happened. "It" was an accident. Well, not exactly an accident.

I'm reminded of the doctor who asked the rancher if he ever had an accident. The rancher replied that he hadn't, to which the doctor replied, "Never in your whole life?" The rancher remarked that last spring he ...

Religious Growth Trends
by Erin Roach

Jehovah's Witnesses reported the largest growth rate - 2.25 percent - of all churches in the United States and Canada in the span of a year, according to the National Council of Churches, and the Episcopal Church reported the largest decrease at 4.15 percent.

The NCC's 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches said Jehovah's Witnesses claim just over 1 million members and are the smallest "church" in the council's rankings of the twenty-five largest bodies. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew 1.56 percent to 5.7 million members, the report, based on self-reported membership figures from 2006, said.

Only four other denominations in the top twenty-five reported membership increases: the Southern Baptist Convention, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,...