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August 2010 Issue

After months of debate, Southern Baptist Convention messengers meeting June 15-16 adopted an amended version of the Great Commission Task Force report and also elected a new president, Bryant Wright.

It was the first time Southern Baptists had gathered in Orlando since 2000, the same year they debated and passed another significant document, the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message.

The 23-member Great Commission Task Force (GCTF), formed during the 2009 meeting by then-SBC President Johnny Hunt, released a preliminary report in February and a lengthy final report in May. Discussion on the report in newspapers, Internet blogs, and social media led to the largest messenger total at an annual meeting — just over 11,000 — since 2006.

In other top annual meeting news, messengers passed a resolution calling divorce a "scandal that has become all too commonplace in our own churches" and an oil spill resolution asserting that "...

Dear Friends:

It is only by the Sovereignty of God that Southern Baptists have chosen me to serve Him as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to serve. There are great transitions ahead for the Executive Committee and our Mission Boards; changes in leadership and strategy will affect the mission of Southern Baptists as a whole.

I ask you to pray fervently for our Convention in these critical days of decision making so we align ourselves fully with the heart and mission of Jesus. I also ask that you pray for me and Anne, that we most of all stay close to the Lord and one another during these days. In that light, through prayer and reflection, God has put on my heart three fundamental issues at the core of my service:

1. A return to Christ as our first love. When we return to Jesus as our first love in our pulpits and pews, we will beg...

A friendly conversation, a story, a realization, and a prayer: that's the gist of what happens when one person shares and another accepts the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. And while the methods and venues may have varied, the scene played out 1,505 times June 7-12 as Southern Baptists expressed their core message of hope through Crossover Orlando.

The effort, held just prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's June 15-16 annual meeting at the Orange County Convention Center, involved more than seventy local churches and twelve hundred outside volunteers. Venues included weeklong Hispanic Crossover and Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) efforts, as well as a one-day blitz June 12 that included fifteen neighborhood block parties, visits to homes, food distribution at five churches, free water bottles for tourists on International Drive, and a huge family festival for...

On October 1, 1992, the SBC Executive Committee inaugurated a new president and chief executive officer who would not only lead them into the next century, but would have a profound impact upon the denominational structure and spiritual focus of the Southern Baptist Convention. On September 30, 2010, after eighteen years of distinguished and vital service, Morris H. Chapman will retire from that office.

In June, 1991, Harold Bennett announced his retirement as executive secretary-treasurer of the Executive Committee. At the time, Chapman, pastor of Wichita Falls First Baptist Church in Texas, was completing his first of two years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, during which he aggressively promoted prayer for spiritual renewal and the need to address the fractured condition of families both in our churches and in America. After eight months of prayer and deliberation, the EC Presidential Se...

At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary the Great Commission infuses classrooms, captivates hearts, and undergirds every decision.

Thanks to the generous support of Southern Baptists, since 1950 men and women studying at Southeastern have been trained to be effective missionaries in every context. Christ's commands — go, teach, baptize — are obeyed in countless different ways by thousands of alumni, students, faculty, and staff.

Southeastern Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. Its more than forty different undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degree programs mean students are being trained for Kingdom service in numerous fields — pastoral ministry, counseling, international and domestic church planting, apologetics, discipleship, music, research, student and collegiate ministry, ...

One of the most significant acts of stewardship a Christian can make is to leave money to a local church or other Christian cause through a will. Unfortunately, many Southern Baptists make no plans for distributing their possessions after they die. But a new initiative called My Legacy of Faith (MLOF) is attempting to change that. Through the MLOF Web site (, Southern Baptists can begin planning how to distribute their estates to benefit both their families and favorite ministries while also reducing taxes. In addition, the site provides a template for a legacy will — a document that records important memories and thoughts for family to remember for generations to come.

Pastors must do their part if Southern Baptists are to fulfill the Great Commission, Rod Elliott says.

"If we truly want to love God's world by fulfilling the Great Commission and Commandment, the Cooperative Program helps us accomplish and partner with other Southern Baptist churches that desire the same," said Elliott, 38, senior pastor of Kelleytown Baptist Church in Hartsville, South Carolina.

"I think the pastor has to be a cheerleader for the Cooperative Program," Elliott said. "From a practical and financial standpoint, the Cooperative Program is the best way for us to be on mission around the world. If we truly want the world to hear, Southern Baptists must continue to fly the Cooperative Program banner."

Missions education resources from the state and national conventions can give pastors a boost in setting forth the call to missions, Elliott added.

"One o...

Health. Fitness. Conditioning. Thinking about those words makes most people tired. And, then again, thinking about working out, jogging, or just controlling our diets is about as far as many people get. The issues of health and fitness are prevalent thoughts but rarely make it into the realm of reality. It is easier to think about change then to experience it — and all real transformation takes change.

The same is true for church health. In fact, the current realities in the American church have some clamoring for better results. We are in constant search for a program, book, or speaker who can help us go from "ailing to thriving." And, to our credit, not many local church leaders back off of the challenge of the effort required to see that change take place.

What does a transformed (and transformational) church look like? The Bible gives examples of what it looks like when God transforms the people of a local church. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, ...

God is touching lives at the University of Miami (Florida) through its Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM).

Consider, for example, a student from the United Kingdom who recently came to the university uncertain of God's existence. After some BCM students befriended her, she not only professed her faith in Christ, she began ministering to others.

Consider also that after the BCM president cast a vision for a campus-wide evangelistic emphasis, students organized a forum where Christians and non-Christians could dialogue about spiritual issues. As a result, lost students began to consider the Gospel.

But according to Miami-area BCM director Becky Crandall, such Kingdom advances are possible only because of the intricate web of Southern Baptist cooperation that supports BCMs.

"Aside from the theological distinctions that we have, the thing that I love most about Baptist life is...

At a garbage dump on the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, gaunt and weary-looking Haitians formed two lines to wait in the searing sun June 20 for Buckets of Hope to be unloaded from a truck near Eglise Baptiste Canaan.

The church, named for the Promised Land, ironically is planted at the garbage dump where a makeshift city of displaced Haitians has sprung up after the January 12 earthquake.

The Buckets of Hope were among the thousands that had been languishing in the capital city's port for two months before Haitian customs officials, overwhelmed by the processing of other shipments of supplies since the earthquake, would release the shipping containers transporting the buckets. Seven containers filled with 9,100 buckets had been released by government officials as of July 19.

Another thirty-eight containers, with almost 50,000 buckets, are now in port, and twenty, with a...

Have you ever been frustrated because you just didn't know how to effectively present the Gospel? Consider this testimony from an anonymous brother who you might be able to relate to.

I'm daydreaming at the water cooler when suddenly Lisa, from sales, interrupts my thoughts with a big hello. I turn and look into her smiling face and return it with a smile of my own.

"What's got you smiling?" I ask. I like Lisa, she's always so friendly.

"Oh, I had a great weekend. My husband took me out to a really cool restaurant for dinner, for no reason, on Saturday night. Then on Sunday morning, we went and bought a new fifty-inch plasma TV. I'm one happy girl!"

Sunday morning ... I was in church on Sunday morning. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I blurt out, "Lisa, do you know Jesus?"

She looks hard at me, her smile slowly t...

I love the ocean! I'm quite sure God called me to preach, teach, and go to the beach. My first time in the ocean, with my parents watching on the beach, was memorable. I noticed that my parents had moved the umbrella and towels about fifty yards down the beach. I thought they were trying to lose me. I looked again and saw that the hotel had also moved down the beach. Then I realized that I had moved. I had drifted and I didn't even know it.

The Bible teaches that we must continually renew our mind. Otherwise, we drift in our thinking and, eventually, our living. We must be in a constant state of renewal. That usually involves getting away from our daily lives to think about how we live. We must evaluate where we are going.

When our outside actions differ from our inside feelings, we are out of congruence. When we pile and pile bricks onto a wheelbarrow, it topples. As we continue to stuff an...

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