SBC LIFE

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March 2015 Issue

Despite Five-Year Declines in Per Capita Giving, Church Membership
National CP Shows Signs of Rebounding

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Despite a five-year decline in church membership and a corresponding decrease in per capita giving, the national portion of CP shows signs of rebounding through the first four months of fiscal 2014–2015.

Year-to-date contributions to the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget through January 31 totaled $64,702,035.77, the highest amount since the January 31, 2012, report. Though lower than the $67.8 million received through January 2010, the $65.6 million in 2011, and the $65.1 million in 2012, this marks the first increase through the first four months of the fiscal year since 2012 and may be a harbinger that local churches are recovering from the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

The two SBC seasonal missions...

Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie Floyd, president, Southern Baptist Convention. Image courtesy of Baptist Press.

As Ronnie Floyd reflects on the path that has led to his service as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, he cannot deny the providence of God in every step.

Particularly, he cites God’s will in being elected president last June rather than the first time he was nominated in 2006.

“God is sovereign over all affairs,” Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, told SBC LIFE. “There’s a purpose, and you leave it in the hands of God and you go forward.”

Floyd went forward at the time more committed to making a difference for the Kingdom through the SBC.

“I did not know that it really was more about God holding me back for a more providential hour, for me, with the gifts I have, the person I am,” Floyd said. “So I coun...

Kevin Ezell

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, addressed NAMB trustees in Boston on October 8, 2014. Ezell issued a call for more Southern Baptist churches to come alongside church planters. Photo by John Swain.

Kevin Ezell issued a call to Southern Baptist churches to come alongside church planters in North America in a way that will encourage, strengthen, and provide accountability as they seek to take the Gospel to under-reached areas.

“Every church regardless of size can be a Sending Church. It has everything to do with engagement,” said Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. “It is not based on how much money you contribute.”

Only about five hundred of the current church planters in NAMB’s network have a Sending Church, which serves as a lead partner with a church plant, often coordinating the involvement of additional partner churches.

Part of what keeps the number of Sending Churches lo...

This year, seven individuals and couples, representing thousands of missionaries serving throughout the United States, Canada, and their territories, are spotlighted during NAMB’s Week of Prayer.

2015 Southern Baptist Convention

TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 16*

  • Presidential Address
  • All Seminary Reports

TUESDAY AFTERNOON, JUNE 16*

  • Executive Committee Reports and Recommendations
  • Committee on Committees Report
  • Committee on Nominations Report
  • GuideStone Report
  • Elections of All SBC Officers
  • Committee on Resolutions Report
  • Other SBC Business

TUESDAY NIGHT, JUNE 16*

“A National Prayer Gathering of Southern Baptists for the Next Great Awakening and to Reach the World for Christ”

  • Brief Moments in God’s Word, Seasons of Prayer in Response to God, and Other Expressions of Worship
  • Led by Southern Baptist Pastors Enlisted by the SBC President

WEDNESDAY MORNING, JUNE 17*

Entire Session Given to Missions Around the World

  • WMU Report
  • North American Mission Board Report
  • Interna...
SBC Executive Committee meeting

Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, leads EC members and guests sheltered from a winter storm in singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” during the EC’s February 16–17 meeting. Photos by Roger S. Oldham.

Forty-four Executive Committee members were able to travel to Nashville to comprise a quorum—half of the EC’s eighty-two members, plus one—before an ice storm crippled the city during the EC’s February 16–17 meeting.

A State of Emergency

A state of emergency in Nashville and middle Tennessee was declared on February 16 as ice, sleet, and snow gripped the region.

Since members of the Cooperative Program Committee and other EC members had arrived in Nashville on the afternoon of February 15, EC officers and President Frank S. Page decided to move forward with the February 16–17 sessions. Canceled flights and treacherous road conditions...

Heaven's Windows food ministry

Some of the thirty volunteers needed each weekday to package and distribute food through Heaven’s Windows, the nonprofit based at New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, California. Photos by Angie Kretschmar.

Southern Baptist churches of various sizes and in various settings are feeding the hungry in the United States.

And a sizable number of Americans remain in need of such help. Almost fifty million Americans, or nearly one in six, live in “food insecure households,” according to Feeding America, a nationwide network of two hundred food banks.

Local Church Ministries

Many people turn to churches in their need. More than two in ten Americans (22 percent) say their family has received help from a church-run food pantry, LifeWay Research reported in November.

Southern Baptists staff and stock thousands of local church and community-wide faith-based hunger ministries a...

Ronnie Floyd

SBC President Ronnie Floyd visits the Southern Baptist Convention offices in Nashville, Tennessee. Photos by Rebecca Wolford and D. August Boto.

Editor’s Note: When Ronnie Floyd was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention last summer, it was a natural extension of his life’s ministry.

He was by no means a newcomer to the Convention, having spent years leading by example at the local church level and in numerous denominational roles.

As president, Floyd has exhorted Southern Baptists earnestly to plead with the Lord for spiritual awakening and revival. He also encourages churches to support the Convention’s Cooperative Program for missions and ministry, leading his church to give more each year. SBC LIFE’s Erin Roach recently had opportunity to visit with him about the passions that mark his life. As part of her interview, she asked him a succession of brief questions on the following to...

The freedom to live according to one’s religious beliefs has been a fundamental right in America since its founding. As the culture changes and those opposed to biblical values become more vocal, it is becoming increasingly difficult to express religious beliefs without being socially ostracized or legally penalized. This map displays political and cultural events from the past few years that have had an effect on religious liberty and biblical faith in America. See below for more information about each event.
Addiction

© istockphoto.com

She shivered in the church pew trying to stop shaking, but the drug withdrawal had begun.

He finally confessed that after months of saying he had stopped, his addiction to pornography was still alive and growing.

The young woman tearfully looked at me as she held her baby and pushed up her sleeves to show me the cuts and needle marks that ran up and down her arms.

“I’m addicted to sex,” the woman tearfully admitted. “I had my third abortion last week.”

If you have a family or are engaged in a community of people, it doesn’t take long to find someone dealing with addiction. Whether it is a member of your family, small group participant, or a member of a congregation, there is someone near you who is struggling.

What do you do when someone you love has an addiction?

Have The Right Perspective

Recognize you are no better than the addict (...

Giving tithe

© istockphoto.com

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul shares about the Macedonian churches who gave generously and joyfully despite their own poverty and affliction. Paul says they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints (8:4).

These days we rarely hear people begging to give away their money. Most everyone realizes that ministry costs money, and that churches and ministries rely on the obedience and generosity of believers to fund their work. But there are many reasons why we are not always enthusiastic about giving.

Financial Insecurity

Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the economy’s slow recovery continues to have an impact on Americans’ daily lives, which in turn impacts their charitable giving. Confidence in the economy is improving, but that confidence hasn’t affected church giving as much as other areas.

I...

Jimmy Brown trusts the Lord—and uses common sense—whenever he goes fishing, whether the fishing hole is filled with lake water or the silt of an undredged life.
Lake

Left: Aerial view showing the Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville in California with full water in 2011.
Right: Aerial view from 2013 showing the Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville in California after a period of drought. The channel is clearly operational, but the water flow is greatly diminished.
Photos by Paul Hames | Courtesy of California Department of Water Resources

Twenty-three state Baptist conventions have increased the portion of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries in moving toward the goal of a 50/50 allocation between state convention causes and SBC causes, continuing an upward trend spanning several years.

At the forefront this year: Messengers in Iowa and Nevada adopted Cooperative Program budgets projected to generate a combined $1.4 million in additional support for the SBC’s International Mission Board, North American Mission Boar...

Kyle and Christine Hoover

Kyle and Christine Hoover. Photo courtesy of Christine Hoover.

Unpacking in our new home in a new state far from our families, I opened a box marked “Fragile” in big black letters. Inside, buried under bubble wrap, I found my framed wedding vows. While I searched the master bedroom for the perfect spot where the frame could hang, I read what I had committed to Kyle on our wedding day. Just as it had when I had first written the words, my heart stopped on one line.

I vow to support the ministry that God gives you.

An Overarching Willingness

When I wrote those vows in the weeks leading up to our wedding, I read them several times, each time imagining myself speaking them on our wedding day and, each time, hesitating at the promise to support Kyle’s calling into ministry. Although they were weighty, the other lines about faithfulness and commitment felt right to me; I could con...