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June 2011 Issue

“A Great Commission People with a Great Commandment Heart” will provide the focus for a June 14-15 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix that will be more compact and offer more opportunities for fellowship.

A broad range of auxiliary activities also will be held, from Crossover 2011 evangelistic outreach events to the annual Pastors’ Conference and Woman’s Missionary Union annual meeting and missions celebration.

The SBC’s business sessions in the Phoenix Convention Center will include messengers’ consideration of recommendations from the SBC Executive Committee’s review of ethnic church and ethnic church leader participation in the convention.

Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said last year’s emphasis on “Great Commission Resurgence” laid the foundation for this year’s challenge to fulfill Christ’s disciple-making command.

“I’m very thankful for what Johnny Hunt and the GCR Task Force did in calling...

Our annual meeting theme is “A Great Commission People with a Great Commandment Heart.” This issue of SBC LIFE demonstrates that we are seeking to be just that! I just returned from the storm-ravaged state of Alabama. Seeing first-hand the many acts of compassionate service by so many volunteers made me proud to be a Southern Baptist. Read Mickey’s article carefully. Count how many disaster relief teams deployed immediately to serve others in the Name of Jesus. Read about GuideStone’s Mission: Dignity. Ask the Lord how you can assist in serving those who have served the Lord. I am so grateful for this Southern Baptist ministry. I am thrilled to read of the growth in ministry involvement of dear brothers and sisters whose ethnicity and languages differ, but whose hearts beat as one with ours! I give thanks for them. In the area of personal evangelism, I rejoice to hear of individuals being saved through  NAMB’s vital ministry of God’s Plan for Sharing. We will one day give account to the Lord for the role we played—or failed to play&mda...

Illustrating the SBC Kingdom Mosaic

Black Southern Baptist Network Spotlighting Church Planters
With 600 church planters of African-American heritage added to the rolls of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network last year, the network’s annual meeting this year will focus on how the organization encourages its members professionally and personally.

The network will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Mesa, Arizona, 931 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb about 20 miles east of the Phoenix Convention Center, site of the 2011 SBC annual meeting.

“The North American Mission Board counts these African-American church planters as missionaries; this makes them denominational servants,” said Jeffrey Curtis, president of the Black Denominational Servants Network and a black church relations consultant with LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Tom [Kelley, retired from the California Southern Baptist Convention] alw...

One of the basic understandings among Baptists, and many other denominations, is that at some point a true and faithful follower of Jesus Christ will unite with a local body of believers of like faith and practice.

The final section of “Penetrating the Lostness,” the Great Commission Task Force report adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2010, contains ten sets of challenges addressed to all Southern Baptists.  The set addressed to state conventions includes eleven specific challenges.1 Buried in this list of charges is this bullet point:

“Determine to return to the historic ideal of a 50/50 Cooperative Program distribution between the state conventions and the SBC, recognizing the historic commitment of the SBC and the state conventions to share expenses for the promotion and administration of the Cooperative Program.” 2

Eight months later, state convention executives from most of the state conventions that cooperate with the SBC gathered in Williamsburg, Virginia, for their 2011 annual meeting.  An item on their agenda involved the two pieces in this challenge: a consideration of the goal of reaching a 50/50 division of Cooperative Program receipts between state and SBC cau...

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief mobilized more than fifty recovery teams throughout Alabama following the tornadoes of April 27. That day saw the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in seventy-nine years, ripping a 200-mile swath across the state from Tuscaloosa to the Georgia state line, killing 249 Alabamians.

In all, killer tornadoes claimed 350 lives in six states. In addition to Alabama’s fatalities, the death toll from this round of tornadoes across the southern states was thirty-four in Mississippi, thirty-four in Tennessee, fifteen in Georgia, five in Virginia, and fourteen in Arkansas.

In the two weeks following the April 27 destruction, SBDR feeding units prepared and delivered more than 162,000 hot meals. Alabama feeding units have operated in Rainsville, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham, while Kentucky Baptist Convention volunteers have fed victims in Henager, and Florida Baptist volunteers have fed victims in Double Springs. A Texas feeding unit also was deployed in Tuscaloosa, the hardest-hit city in Alabama, and a South Carolina ...

Dr. William Lunsford understood the need was great.

Witnessing many thousands of men returning from World War I and the care the government took for those returning soldiers sparked an idea. Seeing the pension plans of major businesses, government, and the military, Lunsford wanted to see the soldiers of the cross cared for as well.

One fall day in 1916 the Nashville pastor stood at the local Baptist pastors’ conference and issued a challenge:

“Our churches have created the conscience in government and industry to cause them to provide for their disabled and aged workers. Why don’t we practice what we preach?”

His burden was for the tragic situation of worn-out Baptist preachers and their families. Many faced hardship and physical need during their later years. Lunsford’s theme: men who dedicate their lives to the Gospel should have the love and care of their brethren in their retirement years.

His mission was met with agreement throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. Out of tha...

Golden Gate Seminary
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’spresident, Jeff Iorg, will be the featured speaker at the seminary’s Alumni and Friends Luncheon June 15 at12:15 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center North Building, Rooms 227 A/B/C on Level 200. Iorg will report on the seminary’s activities over the past year and discuss new initiatives for the coming year, and Golden Gate’s distinguished alumni award will be presented. Tickets, at $10 per person, are available by calling 1-888-442-8709 or emailing Ticketsalso can be purchased at Golden Gate’s exhibit hall booth at the SBC annual meeting.

Midwestern Seminary
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will host its annual Alumni & Friends Luncheon June 15, at noon in the Phoenix Convention Center’s North Building, Rooms 124 A & B, Street Level. Seminary president R. Philip Roberts will provide an update on recent events and activities. To purchase a $15 meal ticket, contact Midwestern&rsqu...

The struggling U.S. economy hasn’t been kind to Winnebago County in extreme north-central Illinois.

Winnebago, with the highest unemployment rate in Illinois, is home to the state’s third-largest city, Rockford. Several major plant closings over the past few years have impacted many of the county’s communities, including Machesney Park, where Kevin Kerr is pastor of First Baptist Church.

“We’ve had people who have lost jobs, and some of them have stayed and tried to find lower-paying work or fewer hours,” Kerr said. “Some have had to move away, and that has impacted our attendance as well as our offerings.”

Those facts make Machesney Park’s place on the Illinois Baptist State Association’s list of top-giving churches through the Cooperative Program even more notable, though Kerr is quick to downplay their 17 percent giving increase over 2009. The church wants to be higher on the list, th...

Reaching the Masses in America’s Urban Centers


When Tom Billings looks at Houston today, he sees a very different city than the Houston of a generation ago.

It’s bigger, to be sure. The Texas urban giant counts more than 6 million people within its metropolitan area, now the fifth-largest metro region in the United States. But it also has become a coat of many colors—and cultures and languages.

“In 1980, Houston was a biracial southern city: black and white, mostly white,” says Billings, executive director of the Union Baptist Association, which serves some 600 Southern Baptist churches in greater Houston.

Today, it is a major immigration portal and one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse urban centers in North America. One in four Houston residents was born overseas. Billings and his ministry team have identified some 350 different ethnolinguistic people groups. More than 150 languages are spoken by the families of students in the public schools.

“I remind [churches] that we are responsible for reaching all of the peop...

For approximately twenty years, I served as a senior pastor or associate pastor in Southern Baptist churches. During these years, I have explained to church members, prospects, and the unsaved what the Cooperative Program is and how it works.

I have now learned that I never did the Cooperative Program justice in my explanation. As I serve New Mexico Baptists as director of evangelism and discipleship, I am beginning to fully experience the depth of the Cooperative Program.

One way the Cooperative Program is impacting New Mexico Baptists is through the GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) initiative. The overall plan is “Every Believer Sharing the Gospel and Every Person Hearing the Gospel by 2020.” This is not just New Mexico but all of North America. The Cooperative Program is making this possible.

In 2010 the emphasis was on sowing the gospel throughout the state. In 2011 the GPS focus is on “attractional events.” This August, BCNM staff and representatives from the North American Mission Board will condu...

Cultivating Relationships to Advance the Gospel


The massive Great Commission returns more than justify the investment of efforts and energies through the SBC’s Global Evangelical Relations (GER) initiative, according to Garry Eudy.

Eudy, a retired IMB missionary and pastor, believes the results from GER strategist Bobby Welch’s efforts in Guatemala over the last three years clearly demonstrate GER’s Great Commission value. He states Welch’s presence and his efforts in linking Southern Baptists to ministry in the country have strengthened relationships with the Guatemalan Baptist Convention and opened the door for more Southern Baptists to join and support their efforts to present the Gospel to every person in the Central American nation.

“When Dr. Welch moves on to other places, there are Southern Baptist pastors and leaders who will have an interest here, and they will continue to build and foster the relationships here—to extend and expand upon that relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention—all for the Gospel,” said Eudy....

Isaac Strider is a 15-year-old sophomore from Bethany, Oklahoma, where he is a member of the school’s Bible group and FCA at his high school. When he was 6 years old, he placed his faith in Christ during a visit with his grandfather and grandmother, Edward and Betty Lockwood, in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Isaac’s grandfather has a motorcycle, so it was pretty natural for him to love bikes. In 2010 they rode the bike to Sturgis; the ultimate destination for bikers. But Isaac not only loves bikes, he loves Jesus even more. During their time in Sturgis he worked with the Christian bikers who were there sharing their faith. Several of the leaders were not sure if he could handle himself with the adults who would come into the tent, but he quickly proved they had nothing to fear. He shared with more than forty adults, some from notorious biker groups, and was able to lead twenty-one adults to the Lord. 

His next opportunity would be Daytona Bike Week 2011. There would be tens of thousands in town for the week, and the FAITH Riders w...

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law May 10 expansive pro-life legislation that includes a ban on state-directed funding of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

In doing so, the Republican governor made Indiana reportedly the first state to enact such a prohibition on money for organizations that perform or promote abortion. The law exempts hospitals and outpatient surgery centers. The measure will eliminate about $2 million of the $3 million in federal funds Planned Parenthood of Indiana receives each year, according to The Indianapolis Star.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana filed a lawsuit hours after Daniels signed the legislation, but federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied the organization’s request that she block enforcement of the new law, The Star reported. The measure will remain in effect while Pratt—nominated by President Obama—considers its constitutionality.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its...

Many of you are (or will be, or have been) in Phoenix discussing church work. Ministry in Phoenix can be hard—I know, I’ve preached there. It’s so beautiful in the winter that heaven doesn’t motivate them, and it is so hot in the summer that hell won’t scare them.

But church work is hard everywhere. Did you pray at your last deacon’s banquet, “Lord, thank you for preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies?” Is your church so small that when you say “Dearly beloved,” your wife is embarrassed? Do you feel as if each sermon is like explaining Leviticus to a four-year-old? Do you feel like you are the Titanic and the church is the iceberg? Is your latest vision statement “Misery loves company”? Was deacon grump-a-lot voted chairman and his wife believes her spiritual gift is suffering?

Speaking of suffering, did your best deacon say he never understood suffering until he heard you preach? And worse, the chairman of your over-budgeted and under-financed committee has been there so lon...

June 2011

June 11-13

SBC Annual Meeting
June 14-15

Baptist Men’s Emphasis
June 19

Mission: Dignity Sunday
June 26

July 2011

Citizenship and Religious Liberty Sunday
July 3

Serving Your Community Sunday
July 17

August 2011

Social Issues Sunday
August 7

Student Evangelism Day
August 14