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June 2012 Issue

The recommendation of “Great Commission Baptists” as a descriptive name and the prospective election of the first ever African American president are on the horizon for the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 19–20 meeting in New Orleans.

Messengers will decide whether to adopt the informal, non-legal “Great Commission Baptists” descriptor as recommended by the SBC Executive Committee, embracing the suggestion of a special task force appointed to study changing the SBC’s name, deemed by some a regional barrier to the Gospel.

“The overwhelming acceptance of the Executive Committee was the first major step,” SBC President Bryant Wright said of the proposed descriptor. “Obviously, the decision of the Convention will be most important. If approved, our entities will lead the way in using the descriptor. I think it will be a ten to twenty-year process of helping Southern Baptists and the general public to think, ‘Those people really are Great Commission Baptists,’ ...

For the first time, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay up to date with a smartphone app, which will include more than a dozen features, including schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, news feeds, the Book of Reports, the Daily Bulletin, and much more.

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry users and can be downloaded by visiting from a smartphone or by typing in “SBC Annual Meeting 2012” in the smartphone’s app store.

Developed by Core-Apps, the app will include:

• Push alerts that give users up-to-date news, such as changes in the meeting schedule should the posted schedule change.

• The programs for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the annual meeting.

• An alphabetized list of Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting speakers, including their scheduled speaking times.

• A news feed of Baptist Press news stories and photos covering Crossover, the SBC...

An Interview with Frank S. Page, President of the SBC Executive Committee

SBCLIFE: Last spring, you announced your intention to develop a ten-year vision to challenge Southern Baptists to spiritual renewal. What progress have you made toward this goal?

Page: During the past eighteen months, I have visited personally with every state convention executive and each SBC entity leader in his field of service, listening and learning. In concert with Kevin Ezell at NAMB, we have appointed and met with two advisory councils to give us insight into the perspectives of Hispanic and African American Southern Baptists. We plan to appoint an Asian American advisory council later this year. In addition, I began visiting our ethnic fellowship presidents a couple of months ago and hope to visit with each one over the next twelve months.

It has also been my privilege to visit with pastors and church leaders from churches of all sizes across the country. I routinely survey the Baptist blogosphere to see what’s on people’s minds. We’ve hosted several focus groups that have included younger pastors,...

The city of New Orleans is a city of neighborhoods. For example, Orleans Parish, one of five parishes in the metropolitan area, has seventy-two distinct neighborhoods. In the 2010 census, the population of the neighborhoods in this one parish was down by more than 140,000 since the 2000 census (from 484,674 to 343,829).

New Orleans Baptist Association, comprised of 111 churches and missions, serves more than one million souls in neighborhoods all across the metropolitan area. The association’s churches were deeply impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina during the Labor Day weekend in 2005, first by extensive destruction of church properties and members’ homes, followed by the rapid loss of thousands of church members who fled the city and have not returned. In 2005, the churches reported 47,560 members; six years later, they reported 31,275 members, a 34 percent decline. The five largest churches, which account for almost 50 percent of the membership, are thriving; but, as these stories note, the many smaller congregations are also making a comebac...

Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church has emphasized biblical stewardship in an effort to encourage all members to experience God’s blessings upon obedience.

In 1857, businessman Jeremiah Lanphier acted on his burden for the spiritual condition of New York City by organizing a prayer meeting. The first gathering on September 23 was attended by only six people. But starting with those six, God began a great revival. Within six months, over ten thousand New York businessmen were meeting everyday for prayer. A Great Awakening had begun.

We are in need today of another Great Awakening. Churches both inside and outside the Southern Baptist Convention are struggling. The difficulties are as numerous as the churches, but the vast majority of them could be resolved by a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit on His people.

Our culture is also in great need of God’s intervention. By practically every measurable standard our nation is in spiritual freefall. If we continue on our current path, we can only expect a greater judgment from God than we are experiencing today.

Thankfully, our God continues to offer grace and extend mercy. He is the God of hope and second chances. In 2 Chronicles 7...

The Southern Baptist Convention’s mission work, ethnic diversity, and vast network of cooperation will be on display at a fifteen hundred square foot Cooperative Program booth in the exhibit hall at this year’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

On a platform stage area, visitors to the CP booth will see approximately thirty interviews with missionaries, ethnic fellowship leaders, seminary students, pastors, state convention executives, entity presidents, and others as a way of highlighting the broad array of ministries supported by CP. The booth will feature two high-definition video screens displaying the interviews and Twitter feeds.

The CP booth traditionally has been staffed by the Executive Committee. This year’s exhibit is presented in partnership with the North American and International Mission Boards and will be positioned alongside the NAMB and IMB booths.

“The Cooperative Program exists to fuel missions and ministry, and it’s important that the Executive Committee promote the Cooperative Progra...

Encouraging stronger churches to partner with declining churches and developing effective mentoring strategies to groom future missionaries, state convention leaders, and denominational employees were among the topics discussed at the first meeting of the African American Advisory Council.

When Nick Hodges decided to watch the Southern Baptist Convention online last summer, he never dreamed he would be navigating the “tubes,” trains, and taxis of a major European city as a result.

When Hodges heard about Embrace during the SBC meeting, “it was like a light went on inside of me.” Embrace is an initiative to encourage Southern Baptist churches to choose an unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG) and establish an active church-planting strategy among them.

“We’re supposed to just go and carry out the Great Commission,” Hodges said of the stirring he felt.

Hodges is pastor of eighty-member Emmanuel Baptist Church in Oakdale, Louisiana. He and members of eleven hundred-member First Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas, spent the last week of April in Europe with International Mission Board trainers to begin their journey to embrace one of the world’s 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups, five hundred of which can be found in Europe.

They are the...

Cooperative Giving, Missional Going: Introduction by Roger S. Oldham; Paul’s Offering for the Saints in Jerusalem by Leo Endel;

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley borrowed Charles Dickens’ opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities to describe the school’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the recent economic recession: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

In many ways, the story of NOBTS is a “tale of two seminaries,” Kelley said.

After a long, hard recovery following Katrina and the recession, the seminary has emerged as a powerful force for reaching the nations with the Gospel. More than ever, it is impacting New Orleans with evangelism, missions, and ministry and training leaders for churches of many languages and races, both in the United States and abroad. Kelley gave thanks for God’s faithfulness to the “School of Providence and Prayer.”

“He’s the same God in the storm and the blue sky,” Kelley said.

Seminary Beginnings
Founded in 1718, La Nouvelle-Orléans began as a French colony and...

Though Southern Baptists have a wide array of practices they view as acceptable for Lord’s Day activities, certain commonalities are clearly embraced.

As Oak Grove Baptist Church in Bel Air, Maryland, faces the possibility of another major building program, the question has been asked: “Do we give too much to missions through the Cooperative Program?”

But the congregation has answered with an emphatic “No!,” committing to give 20 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified way of supporting missions and ministries across the world.

Oak Grove also takes up throughout the year a World Missions Offering, with percentage gifts—65/25/10—going to the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, and the state missions offering of the Maryland/Delaware Baptist Convention. In addition, the church has ongoing missions partnerships in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Lake Placid, New York, and it gives financial support to a church in Ukraine. Locally it ministers through crisis pregnancy support, Christian counseling, food and clothing ministries, alcohol and drug addiction ministries, an emergency homeless shelter, an...

Dozens saved through campus evangelism in New Mexico

If you sit on a bench at New Mexico State University and wait long enough, there’s a reasonable chance that someone will come talk with you about the Gospel.

That’s because nearly every day, teams of two to three students from NMSU’s BSU Christian Challenge walk the Las Cruces, New Mexico, campus sharing their faith with anyone who will give them permission to do so. As a result of the evangelism walks, along with students telling their friends about Jesus, nearly forty people have professed faith in Christ at NMSU this academic year, according to BSU Christian Challenge director David E.*

“Our goal is to inspire [students] with the reality that God’s at work in people’s hearts beyond our imagination,” said David, who also serves as director of state collegiate ministries with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. “He is working and drawing men and women to Himself all the time. We’re blind to that most of the time unless we are engaging them in some kind of spiritual ...

Lory Matthews wasn’t one of the cool kids growing up. In fact, she barely had friends. So when she felt God tapping her on the shoulder to start a youth ministry at her church, she wasn’t so sure He had the right person.

“I came from a very dysfunctional family,” she said. “We weren’t allowed to have friends over, and I never had pajama parties or anything ‘normal’ kids do. I couldn’t believe it when I felt like God was leading me to step out and lead a youth ministry even though I had teenage kids.

“But that was the beginning of a tremendous learning curve for me. I didn’t become a Christian until I was thirty-nine. He showed me I didn’t have to be cool or hip; that I didn’t need to speak the kids’ latest jargon. But what I did need to be was willing to allow Him to love these kids through me.”

Matthews had no way of knowing then that starting that youth ministry in her Syracuse, New York, church (eighty members at the time) would merely ...

Through a variety of channels, Southern Baptists are attempting to uphold traditional marriage in America following President Obama’s announcement in May that he supports “gay marriage.”

The president’s announcement, which came during an interview with ABC News, made him the first sitting US president to affirm “gay marriage” publicly and drew reactions from Southern Baptist leaders.

“It is very depressing news when the president of the United States uses his power of influence to endorse same-sex marriage,” SBC president Bryant Wright said. “. . . Scripture is very clear that from the beginning, God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman. It is important for us who are followers of Jesus to uphold the sacredness of marriage according to Scripture.”

Yet in addition to speaking prophetically about the evils of “gay marriage,” Southern Baptists also are delivering a message of hope and redemption to those trapped in the sin of homosexuality.


I don’t care what anyone says, I never laugh in the face of danger. But sometimes, when danger isn’t looking, I point and make faces and call it a big stupidhead. Of course, then if danger looks over, I look down and pretend I’ve been picking lint off my jacket the whole time.

I decided early in life it might be wise to give a respectable deference to danger and fear, at least to their faces. I guess it’s partly because when I was a kid, Bozo the Clown used to sit in a dark corner of my room every night and brood creepishly. It was always in the same corner. Then in the morning he’d be gone and there would be a floor lamp there instead. Eerie.

Since I obviously know my way around the fear topic, here’s my helpful tip of the day: If you’re panicking, try taking deep breaths. Unless you’re panicking because you’re drowning. Because then you’re definitely going to need a whole different tack.

On the more serious side, though, isn’t it glorious that as we breathe in the...

June 2012

Crossover (June 16)

Baptist Men’s Emphasis (June 17)

SBC Annual Meeting (June 19-20)

Mission: Dignity Sunday (June 24)

July 2012

Citizenship and Religious Liberty Sunday (July 1)

Serving Your Community Sunday (July 15)

August 2012

Social Issues Sunday (August 5)

Student Evangelism Day (August 12)