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September 2014 Issue

The Sower

The M. E. Dodd Award for Cooperative Program is titled “The Sower,” sculpted by Jack Stevens of Wichita Falls, Texas. Photo by SBC LIFE.

I have been captivated by Jesus’ parable of the sower and the soils since my youth. My first sermon as a fifteen-year-old boy was from this text. I still have the handwritten note cards I used to deliver that message.

The parable is clear: when we are faithful to sow the seed of the Word of God, the Lord is faithful to give a harvest. In some settings, the yield may be one hundredfold; in others it may only be sixty or perhaps thirty. But the text is clear—there will always be a crop when seed is sown. The seed of His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11)!

ACP Report

As I read our SBC Annual Church Profile submitted by churches each year and see the declining numbers of baptisms, I wonder what our ...

Anyone who has experienced life at any level knows that actions have consequences. The longer we live, the more we realize that our actions or decisions often have unintended consequences.

Sometimes these consequences are absolutely un-foretell-able or un-seeable at the moment of decision; but more often, they are foreseeable. Scripture instructs the wise person to “count the cost.” This exhortation aptly applies to conversations concerning the continuing value of the Cooperative Program.

New Modalities

In recent years, some within our Convention have been suggesting new funding modalities for our mission work. I understand why they do so. Support for our current methods of cooperative giving and special mission offerings has failed to raise the kind of dollars needed to propel an aggressive global vision while simultaneously maintaining a strong home base of ministry.

Monies which once were on the increase have plateaued. Even when dollars increase annually, they have not kept up with inflation and certainly have not kept pace with population growth. Therefore, we find ours...


North American Mission Board church planter Patrick Coats (right) baptizes Andrew Fellas, a new member of Miami’s Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church, where Coats pastors. Photo by Ted Wilcox.

A task force designed to address declining baptisms among Southern Baptist churches released its full report on May 12.

An urgent, immediate call for spiritual renewal and personal commitment to evangelism and discipleship are the common threads among five recommendations made by the Pastors’ Task Force on Evangelistic Impact and Declining Baptisms. The national task force, aimed at addressing the continued decrease in baptisms among Southern Baptist churches, was convened last year by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Most task force members are pastors. To read their full report, visit http://www.bpnews.n...

Some Things Still Work by Jerry Drace; Local Church Missionaries by Brent Lay; Baptisms: The Next Step by Bobby Welch; An Impossible Dream by Jimmy Draper
3 Circles technique

Jimmy Scroggins demonstrates the “3 Circles” evangelism tool during the NAMB report at the 2014 SBC annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Images courtesy of NAMB.

The “3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide,” a tool for sharing the Gospel with people who have no church background, is gaining momentum throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, giving even new believers a way to move conversations about life problems to a conversation about the only solution.

The North American Mission Board is promoting the tool, which is available as a free app and serves as a companion resource to the book Life on Mission, which was released September 1.

Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, developed the evangelism method, which is as simple as drawing three circles and three arrow...

Call to Columbus

As the newly-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I want to call every pastor, every church leader, and every layperson from a Southern Baptist church to join me in Columbus, Ohio, on June 16–17, 2015.

Business, But Not As Usual

As I work with our Order of Business Committee as well as other leaders, I will respectfully request that we dedicate as much time as possible in next year’s convention to pray extraordinarily for the next Great Awakening. I want to call you to Columbus to what could be one of the most significant prayer gatherings in our history. I also invite you to “Join the Movement” in asking God to send a Great Awakening among His people. Invite your friends and church to pray along with us.

Yes, we have to conduct business at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, and we will do it with great diligence. But we w...

Click here to download hotel and reservation information for the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, or click here to make your reservations online.

SBC 2015 housing reservations
1% CP Challenge

October is “Cooperative Program Emphasis Month” on the SBC calendar. Each local church is challenged to study the Cooperative Program. Learn about it. See what it does. Pray about your part. Show the “1% Challenge” video to your church.

The 1% CP Challenge “is a succinct way to do something more—an understandable way to say, ‘Yeah, we can do that,’” Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, said. “It is understandable, is easily acted upon, and can be done without shifting major sections of a church’s finances.”

According to the Executive Committee’s 2012 Cooperative Program Omnibus Survey...

SBC presidential seal

Since the Southern Baptist Convention was constituted in 1845, SBC presidents have led the Convention through many difficult times in the country’s and Convention’s history. The men elected to this office have been pastors, denominational workers, laymen, educational institution heads, and political leaders. Although the president’s official duties have not changed much since 1845, each presidential term has been shaped by current events and the president’s personality and vision.

Prior to 1932, each SBC president was elected at the beginning of the annual meeting and would preside immediately. The 1932 SBC annual meeting would be the last time a president would preside the year of his election. This same meeting also introduced the election of the president who would preside over the following year’s annual meeting, which is still the practice toda...

EDITOR’S NOTE: On World Hunger Sunday, October 12, Southern Baptist congregations will address the hunger crisis across North America and around the world by focusing on the theme “Hunger Happens Everywhere.” Donations received are channeled through Global Hunger Relief, which uses 100 percent of each gift to meet hunger needs. For more information, visit
A Summer of Change for Golden Gate Baptist Seminary by Ben M. Skaug; Leaving My Heart near San Francisco Reflections from Alumni-Trustees on Selling the Mill Valley, California, Campus by Tyler Sanders
Winning souls is the primary purpose of Emmanuel Carlinville, where about 150 people participate in Sunday morning worship.
A new National Center for Bivocational and Small Church Ministries is being housed at the Nashville church.
Celebrating that the number of African American congregations has almost doubled since 1998, members of the AAAC held its final meeting and presented its final report.
GGBTS Southern California campus Mental Health Advisory Group meeting Mental Health Advisory Group meeting

Members of the Mental Health Advisory Group meet in Nashville, Tennessee. Photos by Roger S. Oldham.

SBC entities are highlighting the importance of mental health ministry in response to a motion made at the 2013 annual meeting. The motion also prompted Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the Executive Committee, to name an advisory group to present suggestions to him about way...

Ministry Grid

Image courtesy of LifeWay.

Most pastors know having well-trained volunteers and lay leaders is essential for the health of any local church.

But few have a strategy for training, said Todd Adkins, director of leadership at LifeWay Christian Resources.

Enter, a new online training site designed to deliver easy, affordable, and high quality training anytime, anywhere.

The site features more than 3,700 original training video sessions on topics from church leadership and finances to parking ministry and childcare.

The idea behind the site is to give churches a framework for their training programs, said Adkins.

“If you don’t give people a framework, they won’t grow,” he said.

Adkins said in the past, local congregations sent volunteers to conferences or used denominational programs suc...

Click here to download the 2015 SBC calendar.

The dates in this Calendar of Activities are those voted on and approved by the Southern Baptist Convention at its annual meeting. This calendar is provided by the Executive Commitee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

SBC 2015 calendar

When I was a kid, I always wondered why anyone would ever choose Frankenberry over Count Chocula.

Because . . . chocolate. That was my entire reason.

Of course, even though I was only a kid, I never put the Count on a pedestal or anything. I still instinctively knew that cereal chocolate didn’t really count as true chocolate. It was actually the first bite of Cocoa Krispies that tipped me off. It was more like: snap, crackle, I don’t think so.

I’m sorry, but I’ve just never been all that cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. They just don’t smell right, like a cross between moldy baby-oiled aluminum and sweetened pest strips. Spoiled, oiled, or foiled—who knows?

Calling cereal chocolate real chocolate would be like calling cereal marshmallows real marshmallows. I know it’s supposed to be to a breakfast cereal’s credit when it stays crunch...