Month: August 2003

Camp equips students for worship leadership

IRVING, Texas ? With churches seeking staff members and leaders who have experience in a variety of ministry and worship styles, the need for a venue to train students in different ministry areas found its answer in a new leadership camp. Summer Worship University (SWU), the brain-child of SBTC Church Ministry Support Associate Ken Lasater, seeks to train students in the fields of music, worship and technology. This year, 32 youth from 13 churches enrolled in the first annual camp held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, July 7-12.

“Agreatnumber ofchurches are looking for leaders to fill staff positions who have broad concepts of ministry and worship,” Lasater said. “Our vision was to provide avenues of training that would prepare students to return to their church with tools and skills to be used of the Lord in ministry at the end of the week.”

These tools, aimed at helping students discover their “reasonable service in worshipping the Lord,” include training in the areas of media and technology in the church, fellowship, recreation, vocal and instrumental music,and drama.

“For several months we have planned for SWUwith the understanding that the Lord would bring to this camp thosestudents that he is beginning to set aside for leadership. It was our responsibility to train them for service,” he added.

The theme of this year’s SWU was “Worship: It’s Not About You,”focusing on Micah 6:6-8, which urges believers to worship through righteousness, mercy and a humble spirit.

Lasater said daily quiet times, inspirational messages and energetic praise kept the focus ontwo things: 1) learning to recognize God’s desire for each student to be a church leader, and 2) preparing to be ready for use in whatever area God chooses.

Since the closing session of SWU, camp participant Sarah Stanridge of John Ralston United Baptist Church, Houston, has organizeda regular youth worship and Bible study time on Wednesday nights. Previously this time had been used mostly for open basketball and a short devotional. Stanridge also recruited friends to help write and perform a drama as a part of the church’s regular worship services on Sunday mornings.

Standridge’s mother, Debbie, who is also the wife of United’s pastor, stated that SWU made a “profound difference” in her daughter who has begun to impact the church’s youth department. “This new enthusiasm is spreading through our children and adults and is beginning a renewal of spirit to our entire church.”

Currently, Standridge is organizing a praise band and a puppet ministry.

“I am very proud of Sarah’s involvement in all this,” she said. “I understand, however, that this is the result of God’s leading and provision. God opened minds and made willing hearts to be receptive to these new ideas and ministries, and the preparation was given through your work at SWU.”

Acclaimed youth communicator Ronnie Hill served as the camp’s pastor and the Louisana-based worship group “Elijah’s Cry” led in worship throughout the week. Media Strategist Lee Miller, who coordinated much of the distribution of the Jesus Video Project in Texas and media coverage coordinator for NASA during the recent loss of the shuttle Columbia, provided training for media and technical equipment. Miller works with Media Services Group out of Lufkin, Texas.

Additionally,the duo drama team SKITZO led the drama students during the week, and helped them write and present several original skits and dramatic pieces, in addition to leading skits in SWU worship services. Bill Ballinger, on staff at First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., served as SWU’s orchestra director.

Next year, Lasater said SWU will include classes and labs on directing, song writing and worship planning.Students will be shown basic directing and then will be given the opportunity to direct the group to develop their skills. The students in the worship planning session will plan worship services, making connections and working with worship teamsduring the week.

“My hope is that therewill be some original music written at the beginning of the week that can be scored,distributed and learned – to be presented at the end of the week,” he said. “The student teamswill be placed in churches at the end of the week to leadthe servicesthatthey have planned. We expect that this will benefit the churches in which they are placed, but will also benefit their home churches in tremendous ways, as the students return home.”

The call to homeschool

Christian parents hoping to impart a faith legacy to their children face a serious dilemma?virtually every area of today’s culture works to counteract even their best efforts. In working through this conflict, some parents feel called to educate their children at home. How do parents know that God is calling them to homeschool?

Some parents are called to homeschool through a series of life circumstances. Elizabeth Watkins, member of Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen is among those who God led step by step. “The very first seed planted about homeschooling was by my oldest daughter’s third grade teacher. She was a very dear woman. At the end of the school year she told me that if she had it to do all over again, she would homeschool.”

After some alarming events in her daughter’s fourth and fifth grade years, Watkins began to seriously consider homeschooling. She and her husband had recently taken the course Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. They began to seek God in prayer, in studying Scripture, in their circumstances, and through the counsel of others to discern God’s will for them in the education of their children. They became convinced that God was leading them to homeschool, and they began homeschooling their older daughter in the middle of her fifth grade year.

For over two years Watkins has been teaching her daughters at home. She supports others who home school by directing the Kingdom Kids Homeschool Ministry, a home school support group for mothers at Cottonwood Creek. They recently studied Educating the Whole Hearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson.

In their book, the Clarksons offer several biblical tips and insights for parents as they seek to discern God’s will for their family in the area of childhood education. They state, “Public education is all we have known as a generation, so it has become the default standard by which we reflexively evaluate ‘education.’ God . . . doesn’t want us thinking about anything by default.” First, the Clarksons encourage parents to renew their minds, then to build on truth.

Next, they say, sow for Christ. “If you want to reap secure, mature adults, you must sow together the seeds of time, togetherness and training. If you want to reap godly character, you must sow the seeds of a good example. You can no longer sow to please your own desires, but to please Christ.”

The final principles are to value the eternal and to be content in Christ. “A decision to homeschool is a decision to accept limitations on your life,” say the Clarksons.

Like Watkins, Nancy Sirratt of South Park Baptist in Grand Prairie was led into homeschooling through circumstances. She started homeschooling when her nephews came to live with her. The boys were from a small town, and Sirratt felt that pushing them into a huge school was not in their best interest. “People at my church encouraged me to homeschool them.” She told her friends, “I don’t know how to do that!”

With guidance of others she realized she could. “It was a very big blessing for our family,” said Sirratt, who went on to homeschool her now 10-year-old daughter, and will begin teaching her five-year-old son in the fall.

Unlike Watkins and Sirratt, Tom Campbell, pastor of Southside Baptist in Carthage, and father of two homeschooled sons felt his call to homeschool apart from extenuating circumstances. Campbell’s parents and grandparents were all public educators, which made their decision to homeschool particularly interesting.

He said, “We had a real conviction. The years go by fast as they are growing up. We wanted to make sure we spent as much time as we could with them, instilling our values and teaching them to live for Christ the best that we could.” Campbell referenced Deut. 6 as an important Scripture verse which indicates that parents are to teach their children as they go about their daily routines.

John Yeats, former Texas pastor, home educator of three sons and current editor of the Baptist Messenger, the news journal of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention stated, “The ‘call’ to home educate is nothing less than the extension of training your children to be all that God created them to be. God did not ordain educational institutions for child training. He ordained the family, parents and the network of their extended family and church to train children to first of all walk with God, and then to develop market skills. Parents who choose to sacri

Seeing God at the Canyon

Everyone sees his god at the Grand Canyon. It defies description. Two hundred miles of cliffs and pillars and clefts and slides appear more like a movie backdrop than something real. You can see places in the distance where no man has ever stepped. As the sun moves toward the west, new vistas emerge with color and texture unnoticed only a minute earlier.

We stood on the south rim a few weeks ago amidst people from across the globe. Most had cameras and excitedly took turns mugging with the hazy sunset behind them. A German lady was reading aloud from a tour book describing the eons it took to move so much earth. At one end of the overlook a college student droned on about the wonders and threat of erosion?mostly quoting from a park brochure his companions had not yet read. Some of us said nothing except to point out a new view or better perspective.

It reminded me of a movie from years ago called, appropriately, “t1:place>Grand Canyon.” It was mostly not about the Canyon but rather centered on the messy lives of Los Angelinos as they crossed paths with a saintly wrecker driver. At the end of the movie they all packed into a van and went to see the Canyon. The film’s final scene cut between the majesty of creation and the beaming faces of the pilgrims. They smiled, softened, wept, hugged ?and went back home, whole. How’s that work?

Many of us find a day in the woods or a night under the stars restorative. It’s more than just a change in scenery, I think. Our perspective changes when we are surrounded by things beyond man’s power to make or control. Maybe we are humbled or comforted to know that the world is in stronger hands than ours. We, believer and pagan alike, see the hand of our god in the stupendous extremes of nature. The Materialist will wonder at the huge, lovely things random chance hath wrought. The New Ager will bliss out over nameless beauty and feel harmony with eternal something. Maybe some, like our movie characters, drive home “fixed.”

It’s more complex for the believer. Creation is not just a wonder but also a sign. It has meaning. We live in reality and see the dry land and prickly-poisonous life in the region as the fruit of the Fall. We marvel at the variety of created things and colors and textures given to show the character of the Author of beauty. We see the aging of the Earth as a reminder that it is not eternal; it had a beginning, a Creator, and has a finite existence. At its most awesome fallen nature makes us wistful for the perfect that was and will be again. The total effect is stunning. It has meaning to those who know the God who is not silent.

God speaks in wild places. Jesus prayed in the desert. Moses received his call after years there. Elijah’s great dialog with God took place over a barren place. The wilderness, for all its variety, is a place of solitude and quiet. As I walk though the green mountains I love, so many mysteries call attention to themselves. In the desert, the mysteries are quieter, more subtle though harsh.

He also speaks through his creation. David often referred to the majesty and wonder of God’s work in his soaring songs of praise. God referred Job to the age and miracles of creation to remind Job of his own dependency and limitations. Paul spoke of natural revelation which offers to all evidence of his existence and even indicators of God’s nature. Our own experience bears this out. This side of Calvary, believers see the wonder without worshipping the things God has made. We know that natural beauty is only more permanent that our vision, not more permanent the One who made us. Even natural revelation is more revealing to us because God has given more specific knowledge of himself through the scriptures and through Jesus.

Back on the South Rim the next morning, my children and I caught just a bit of what the rough terrain was saying. For a moment it was quiet. There were no planes or buses or voices discernible on Hopi point. We could see no roads or signs of man. There was only a quiet breeze and silent river miles away. We heard only the sounds of the ages and saw only what appears to us timeless. For those brief moments we moved beyond mere wonder and into awe. All we could hear and see pointed to the God who knows the beginning and end of all things. Creation knows its Master and so do we.

Bienvenido, Dr. Patterson

El Dr. Paige Patterson, amigo del Hispano, llegó a Fort Worth el primero de Agosto del 2003 para asumir el puesto como el Octavo presidente del Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary en Fort Worth. El Dr. Patterson ha sido Presidente del Seminario Southeastern por los últimos 11 años y es con dolor que deja su puesto pero con gusto que acepta la nueva posición.

Un servidor tiene el honor de haber conocido al Dr. Patterson desde el año 1960. Su padre, el Dr. T.A. Patterson fue el Director Ejecutivo de la Convención General Bautista de Texas y tuve el placer de trabajar con él al servir como el primer Director de Evangelismo para los Hispanos en la Convención. Fue durante este tiempo que conocí al jovencito, pelirojo, ancioso por servir al Señor al cual se había rendido al ministerio desde la edad de 14 años. Me invitó para predicar una campaña de evangelismo en su iglesia, la Sardis Baptist Church en Abilene. Jamás olvidaré su entusiasmo al llevarme de casa en casa de personas Hispanas para que les entregáramos el plan de salvación. Para mí, como para él, según sus conversaciones conmigo al traves de los tiempos, fue una experiencia inolvidable.

Se título con el Bachillerato en Artes en la Universidad Hardin Simmons en Abilene en el 1965 y se le otorgó la Maestría en Teología y el Doctorado en Teología en el Seminario en Nuevo Orleans. Siempre ha sido Pastor-Evangelista-Misionero. Ha viajado a 60 paises (t1:City>como un servidor) en Esfuerzos Evangelísticos, Consultas Misioneras, Conferencias Pastorales, Convenciones, Seminarios Teológicos y mucho más.

Cuando era el Presidente del Colegio Criswell en Dallas, entonces Criswell Bible Institute, me invitó a formar parte del Cuerpo de Fideidignos del mismo en el 1975. Se mostraba desde entonces su interés por los Hispanos. Durante ese tiempo el Dr. W.A. Criswell le invitó para ser su Pastor Asociado en la First Baptist Church en Dallas, puesto que ocupó con dignidad.

Como Presidente de la SBC y queriendo representación Hispana en una de las comisiones más importantes de la SBC nombró a un servidor para formar parte de la Comisión de 15 personas para la Revisión del “BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE”. Nunca trató de influir a la Comisión para aceptar ningún deseo mesquino. Para un servidor es el privilegio más alto dado en sus 63 años como Bautista del Sur.

Ahora vuelve a Texas y nos sentimos muy bendecidos al tenerle entre nosotros. Hablando con él me informaba que está “total y profundamente interesado en la educación del ministro Hispano en Texas.” Me aseguraba que haría todo lo posible por acelerar el paso para dar inicio al Centro Hispano Bautista de Texas para la preparación de ministros para ayudarnos a ganar a nuestro pueblo para Cristo. Dicho ministerio ha estado en un moratorio debido a la renuncia de los Presidentes Dr. Keneth Hemphill del Seminario en Ft. Worth y el Dr. Rick Wells del Colegio Criswell. Ahora con la llegada del Dr. Patterson podemos anticipar un enfoque nuevo que nos ayudará a lanzar nuestro proyecto. Él vendrá a ser un parte muy importante en el desarollo de los planes de nuestra Convención para proveer Educación Teológica en nuestro estado. Agradecemos las oraciones de los hermanos por este proyecto.

Ama tanto la obra Hispana que él y su esposa Dorothy le han dado el nombre “Hacienda del Pastor” al hogar Presidencial en el Seminario ubicada en el centro del campo del Seminario. Es otra muestra de su aprecio por los Hispanos. Me asegura que pronto principiará a estudiar el Español más a fondo para podernos servir mejor.

Con todo aprecio y amor Cristiano le decimos al Dr. Patterson,¡BIENVENIDO A TEXAS, su casa!

Texans lead regional women’s ministry forum

Experienced women’s ministry leaders from Texas will be featured at the Women’s Ministry Regional Leadership Forum Sept. 19-20 at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison, including SBTC Women’s Enrichment Consultant Shirley Moses. Other leaders include Simone Monroe, an administrative assistant at Criswell College and well-known conference leader and former Texan Chris Adams, Women’s Enrichment Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, editor of Women Reaching Women and Transformed Lives.

Topics addressed at the forum include special events, mentoring, prayer, networking, leadership training, missions, evangelism, beginning a women’s ministry, reaching all generations, and reaching professional women. Some topics will be discussed in large groups, while others will be covered in small breakout sessions.

Participants will discuss what works, what doesn’t and what problems to avoid. Attention will be given to networking as an effective way to stimulate thinking and find answers to every participant’s questions regarding women’s ministry. Instead of workshops and lectures led by experienced trainers, those attending will learn from peers seeking to lead women’s ministries in local churches. Facilitators will guide small-group discussions, with most of the sessions dedicated to comments, questions and answers from participants.

Those attending are encouraged to bring samples for a Share Fair?such as programs, brochures, budget information, names of speakers, weekly schedules, newsletters, purpose statements, or calendars of events. By providing up to 125 three-hole punched copies, participants will add these to notebooks provided at the forum. Contact information should be included in those handouts.

Locally, interested persons can contact Shirley Moses at 903-786-4322.

Prayer permeates SBTC board meeting

IRVING, Texas – Prayers of gratitude for God’s blessings on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention took priority during the July 31 Executive Board meeting. With unanimity the board approved support of East Texas Baptist Family Ministry, recommended a 17 percent increase for the 2004 budget, elected a new managing editor, praised Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees for their election of Paige Patterson as president, selected evangelist Rudy Hernandez for the SBTC’s highest honor, and commended SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards for five years of service.

John Morgan, a board member from Houston, set the stage with a devotional reminder that every word or deed should be offered for the glory of God. When Jesus is present in the midst of believers, Morgan said they will experience peace, gratefulness, gladness, usefulness, and power.

SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis explained the process whereby the convention has set aside funds to start construction on an office along Highway 360 at the southern edge of Grapevine. Prior board action allocating $3.2 million in surplus funds from 2002 coupled with $530,000 of the current year’s overage allow the building to be completed debt-free.

“The giving has continued to be strong,” Davis said, noting that Cooperative Program receipts from local churches are averaging $1,278,000 per month. “We have received about a million more than budgeted this year?running sixteen percent ahead.”

Morgan asked for permission to interrupt the agenda after hearing the financial report, calling for a prayer of thanksgiving to God in appreciation for men and women who led in allocating the funds. “I don’t want to take this for granted. This is an awesome financial report.”

He recognized that many of the 35 board members have leadership roles with other organizations where financial setbacks have occurred. “I challenge any of you to tell about an organization that has such a wonderful statement as this.”

Board member Miles Seaborn of Fort Worth responded, praying, “We have made a concerted effort to be true and faithful to the principles of your Word.” He asked God for wisdom in expenditures, recognizing “the most dangerous times are when we have more money than anticipated.” Seaborn added, “Don’t let us get diverted or lead into a path that’s not your path, a will that’s not your will. It’s all in your wisdom that we know when [to spend], and we give you the glory and honor.”

The board approved an Executive Committee recommendation creating a Committee on Affiliated and Fraternally Related Ministries as a standing committee with five members appointed by the board chairman annually. Currently, SBTC has a fraternal relationship with Texas Baptist Men and, in addition to an existing affiliation relationship with The Criswell College, approved an affiliation agreement with East Texas Baptist Family Ministry.

The new ministry in Timpson, Texas, is developing 50 homes that will accommodate 300 children, two 5,500-square foot maternity homes and 150 retiree homes. Facilities will be built on 272 acres along FM 137 between the towns of Garrison and Center.

“This [affiliation agreement] is in keeping with the SBTC not being an owner, but a partner with institutions,” explained Human Care Task Force Chairman Steve Cochran of Longview. “The SBTC will be able to provide churches with Baptist options for childcare, maternity and retirement housing. And we’re keeping institutional spending in the operational budget under fifteen percent.”

Board member Al Kawamotto of Arlington offered a strong endorsement of the plan, having served on the task force that studied ETBFM, praising the work of Director Gerald Edwards. Kawamotto distinguished Edwards from many people who “think and talk” about starting a ministry, noting, “If God says, ‘Go do it,’ and he does it, that puts him in a different spot from all the other people.”

Long-range plans call for ETBFM to offer recreational, educational and retreat events, as well as housing equipment for disaster relief, volunteer buildings, and crusade evangelism. As funds are made available later this year, the first children’s home will be built, followed by construction of the first maternity home after the second phase of fundraising.

The SBTC provided $10,000 for assistance in the initial operation of ETBFM, pledging an additional $75,000 next year and $125,000 in 2005. Another $148,700 has already been received from other sources. The SBTC will nominate five individuals to serve as members of the ETBFM Executive Board. ETBFM agrees to support the ministries and affirm the efforts of the SBC and the Cooperative Program, supporting the Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement, comply with applicable state and federal law, and engage an independent CPA to perform a year-end audit.