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October 2011 Issue

Speaking from John 4, Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, called on Southern Baptists to be a "Jesus Convention." The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman leads him to believe that if Southern Baptists are to be a Jesus Convention, "we're going to be a theologically correct people."

Jesus communicated to the Samaritan woman the eternal security of the believer—that anyone who drinks of the water He provides will never thirst again; and the exclusivity of salvation—that Jesus is the only way to God.

"In a 21st century world, such views are woefully politically incorrect, described as intolerant in every way," Page said in his address to the Executive Committee at its September 19 meeting. "I believe we need to continue to be a Jesus people who speak the truth that the world needs living water and the only way they can find it is in Jesus.

"Let us always remember that theological correctness is not an option to be cherished only when culture approves. Let us cont...

A new role created by the North American Mission Board will help the entity maintain a strong focus on minority ministry needs and facilitate leadership opportunities for minorities throughout SBC life.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell created the role of Presidential Ambassador for Ethnic Church Relations shortly after messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix voted to approve a recommendation citing the "need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion of individuals from all ethnic and racial identities within Southern Baptist life."

Ezell named Ken Weathersby to fill the role on August 8, 2011.

"I think messengers sent a clear signal in Phoenix that they want to see a broader spectrum of ethnic involvement in the SBC," Ezell said. "This new role will help facilitate that."

Weathersby most recently served as associate vice president for ethnic mobilization at NAMB. He previously served in leadership positions in NAMB's church planting and evangelism areas as well. He also served in an evang...

In John Eldredge's book entitled Epic he makes the following statement, "What is this drama we've been dropped into the middle of? We find ourselves in the middle a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, often a confusing mixture of both, and we haven't a clue how to make sense of it all." He quotes Chesterton, who had it right when he said, "With every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand." 1

In my first year with the Executive Committee, I feel that I've stepped into a story that, at times, is confusing. There are streams of influence making dramatic impact on our Convention. These streams seem to have come together in a mighty confluence which sometimes seems to be pulling us to an ocean of anarchy.

There are demographic factors that are a part of these streams of influence. We live in a day and time of extreme anti-denominationalism and anti-institutionalism. This is neither always negative nor bad. As a Convention, we must stop...

Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year-old Convention's name.

Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix this past June, said he believes the study will be helpful for two main reasons.

"First, the Convention's name is so regional," he said. "With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name. Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the twenty-first century."

Wright announced the task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee's September 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wright said Jimmy Draper, retired president of LifeWay Christian Resources and a former SBC president, has agreed to serve as chairman of the task force. ...

The Hispanic Advisory Council is a three-year ministry initiative (2011-2014) established by the presidents of the Executive Committee and the North American Mission Board in response to a request from the Hispanic Consortium at its fall 2010 meeting.
Father and Son Meet Jesus by Darrel Davis; From Darkness to Light by Larry Wynn
A frequently asked question in the local church setting is, "Who is in charge?" People want to know, what is the authority structure?

Beginning with its establishment in 1944, and adoption by Southern Baptists in 1950, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has pursued its mission of shaping leaders who expand God's Kingdom around the world. With five fully-accredited campuses, the seminary remains true to its denominational mission of accelerating the fulfillment of the Great Commission by providing training to those who serve churches in the United States and are on mission to the world.

Golden Gate Seminary shoulders the responsibility for training leaders for Southern Baptists in the Western United States. It currently has more than 2,100 students meeting on five campuses, in cyberspace, and at dozens of Contextualized Learning Development centers. "Because there are few Christians and even fewer Baptists in the west—a seminary of our size and strength would probably not be possible without the support of the Southern Baptist Convention," noted President Jeff Iorg. "Thanks for your Cooperative Program gifts, your prayers, and for sending us...

The "1% Challenge" is simply a request to every Southern Baptist pastor and every Southern Baptist church to increase their Cooperative Program gifts by one percent of their church's undesignated contributions.

Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee, issued this challenge during the Executive Committee report at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. He said, "To do better what we're doing together, we're asking you... we challenge you, we encourage you to raise your Cooperative Program support. Would you do that? One percent? Next year?"

During his report, he noted that though the dollar amount contributed through the Cooperative Program has increased fourteen of the past twenty years, a twenty-year decline in percentage of funds forwarded by local churches through the Cooperative Program was a reflection of a much larger cause for concern. He said, "We've been headed in the wrong direction in several ways. In 1989 our gifts to total missions expenditures were 16.5 ...

Pastor David Landrith Says, "Yes!"

"A Simple Challenge—BIG Results!"
In Phoenix, Arizona, Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, issued a challenge to pastors and churches to consider increasing their Cooperative Program contributions by one percent of the church's undesignated receipts. "The effect of this simple challenge would be almost $100 million dollars more for missions and ministries across the SBC," Page said. It's a simple challenge with the potential for BIG results! Challenging churches to increase missions giving through the Cooperative Program is nothing new in SBC circles; but, for the messengers in the room on that day, this simple challenge was immediately seen as something good, something relevant, and most of all, something achievable!

"That's Our Video!"
No one in the room that day took more notice of Page's "1% Challenge for CP" than David Landrith, pasto...

From a human perspective, it does not seem like Oklahoma City's Northwest Baptist Church can afford to increase its Cooperative Program giving.

The congregation supports an array of community ministries, plants churches in an adopted Southeast Asian city, and has a building debt in excess of $400,000.

But this church views missions giving with eyes of faith. That is why it has increased its Cooperative Program giving from five to six and one-quarter percent of its undesignated receipts over the past several years and plans to increase it at least another one percent in January.

"Yes, there are other ways to network," Pastor Benjamin Brammer said. "But I believe that, for many reasons, the Cooperative Program, when done right, is the best way."

A Change of Heart
Given Brammer's enthusiasm for CP, Southern Baptists' unified program of supporting missions and ministries, it might surprise some to learn that he has not always been so zealous. Until recently,...

Yesterday, our new church was pleased to send in our first gift to the Cooperative Program, the cooperative giving plan of our denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. As leaders of the church, we believe in what we are doing together in our denominational family. The Cooperative Program gives our church the opportunity to partner with other churches in our denominational family to be involved in all kinds of work. We are glad to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. (A Blog Post From Ed Stetzer, Grace Church Life Blog)

The really interesting thing about this blog post is this. It was posted March 19, a full month prior to the April 17 launch of Grace Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee! This new church plant began giving their missions dollars through the Cooperative Program before they officially launched! Grace Church's senior pastor, Ed Stetzer, was recently asked about the 1% Challenge for the Cooperative Program, and this was his response.

"I like the 1% challenge...

Discipleship is the priority at First Baptist Church in Columbia, Illinois, and discipleship fuels the church's passion for cooperative world missions and giving through the Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program.

Our passion is to make disciples for Jesus Christ," said Jonathan Peters, the church's pastor since 1998. "Our need is to fulfill the Great Commission. The Cooperative Program is the means by which we do this collectively."

A Passion for Outreach
"Reaching the nations" starts locally for the church, which serves a bedroom community fifteen minutes from downtown St. Louis.

"The majority of people we reach are through friendship," Peters said. "I think two things have been used of God to help His Kingdom move forward in our fellowship," Peters continued. "One is that we genuinely seek to love people. The other is that we tell it like it is; we boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Local initiat...

When a woman returned for a second week to Sunday morning worship at Richland Baptist Church, a greeter asked her what brought her back.

The Cooperative Program is the plan of Southern Baptists for supporting all seven phases of their benevolent, educational, and missionary work through the regular weekly contributions of the members of the churches to this common fund, in which all the causes share in proportion to their needs.

There are seven reasons why I like this Cooperative Program.

First: It enables me to carry out my part of Christ's program of service—benevolent, educational, and missionary.

When he was here he healed, he taught, and he preached the gospel (Matthew 4:23). When he went away he committed this three-fold ministry to his disciples. They, in turn, have passed it down the generations until now the task is in our hands.

Our Cooperative Program carries out his service of benevolence to the human body in (1) orphans' homes, (2) hospitals, and (3) old ministers' relief.

The ministry to the minds of men, or education, is carried out in our (1) schools and colleges, (2...

World Hunger Sunday
When Southern Baptists observe their annual World Hunger Sunday, they will be called to demonstrate the love of Jesus, several key Southern Baptist leaders said.

Scripture recounts several instances, like the one recorded in Matthew 14:14, when Jesus was moved with compassion for a large crowd and was moved to meet their needs. The Greek word translated "compassion" refers to tender emotions, deeply felt feelings, or a deep churning in a person's spirit. That surge of compassion compels a response, said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board.

"When the Scripture speaks of our Lord being 'moved with compassion' it refers to the kind of response we would call 'gut-wrenching,'" Elliff said. "Society is accustomed to being lulled to sleep by scenes of indescribable horror and hunger, but genuine compassion, the kind of compassion that moves a person to act, is part of the DNA of every true believer.

&...

The Horn of Africa drought and famine is but the most recent crisis that brings the perennial need of world hunger starkly into view. Southern Baptists have been working to address human need, including hunger, as a major component of their evangelistic and missions strategies for many years.

Human needs ministries offer Southern Baptist missionaries overseas and across the United States, as well as local churches in the United States, the opportunity to love God and their neighbor by combining spiritual and physical assistance.

The Executive Committee distributes World Hunger Fund contributions to our two missions agencies, with eighty percent going to the International Mission Board and twenty percent going to the North American Mission Board. Because of Cooperative Program support for the IMB and NAMB, these two missions organizations are able to use every penny of World Hunger Fund contributions for hunger relief; there is no administrative cost deducted from contributions to the World Hunger Fund.

Over the past seven years, contribu...

More than 2,000 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are engaged in an ongoing response across North America. Other volunteers remain involved in relief work in Japan and Haiti. Because of the unprecedented number of disasters this year, SBDR leaders are signaling a need for more trained volunteers and are offering ongoing training opportunities.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell asked Southern Baptists to prayerfully consider filling in the gap.

"We have faced unprecedented heat and wildfires, massive outbreaks of tornadoes, and flooding not seen in more than 100 years in the Northeast," Ezell said. "There are active DR responses ongoing across the nation and there is still the need to go the next mile.

"I know many DR volunteers have already used up their available vacation time to minister. Southern Baptists have always given of themselves sacrificially and I know they will again. We have helped thousands of people this year and seen hundreds come to faith in Christ. Now we need the next group of trained volunteers...

More than forty five percent of the 25,000 background checks conducted by churches or organizations on prospective workers in the past three years have turned up "hits," according to LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Since launching LifeWay.com/backgroundchecks in 2008, more than 1,650 different churches or organizations have conducted 25,470 background checks. Of those, 11,656, or 45.76 percent, returned a hit. A "hit" is any kind of incident, ranging from minor traffic violations to felony convictions, explained Jennie Taylor, marketing coordinator in LifeWay's direct marketing department.

While the vast majority of hits were for minor infractions (jay-walking, noise pollution, etc.), almost 2,500 searches turned up misdemeanor charges, and more than 1,600 searches (6.28 percent) returned felony offenses.

In 2008, LifeWay endorsed backgroundchecks.com to offer background screenings for churches and religious organizations at discounted prices. Through LifeWay's OneSource program ...

It was just before Christmas and the temperature outside was below freezing. Anyone would have done precisely what I did when I opened the door. I paused to take it all in.

The lights in the house were off except for the flickering Christmas tree lights bouncing from one vintage ornament to another. Beautifully wrapped presents were piled high around the tree and there was the unmistakable aroma of popcorn in the air. The recently stoked fire cast a compelling orange glow on my three boys and wife, all gathered around the fireplace watching a movie on television. A big bowl of popcorn was on the tapestry ottoman in front of the fireplace and my youngest, wrapped in a vintage quilt, had his pillow and was asleep on the Oriental rug on the floor. The other two boys were on the floor propped against the sofa. Sharon was tucked in the corner of the sofa under an afghan nursing a mug of hot chocolate. The scene could easily have been a Christmas card. It was one of those Kodak moments you couldn't duplicate if you wanted to.

Seve...

My current ministry consists primarily of relationship conferences for churches. Almost each week someone comes to the product table to tell me they are an exception to something I just said. They want to tell me why their marriage is different. These are believers who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord. They know they don't stand a chance against death; but when it comes to marriage they think they know more than God about great relationships. Why are there so many divorces among Christians? Why are Christian couples living as singles under the same roof? Why are there so many depressed wives and distant husbands? Why do we have so much conflict and arguing?
Cooperative Program Emphasis Month (October 1-31) Soul-Winning Commitment Day (October 2) World Hunger Sunday (October 9)