Month: December 2003

Austin congregation puts priority on exposition

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AUSTIN?While the growing trend among church plants is to model after “seeker-sensitive churches” that often probe Bible topics without textual examination, The Austin Stone Community Church is setting themselves apart by being “seeker sensitive” and using expository preaching?the method of probing the biblical text for all its intended meaning and application.

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Furthermore, the church’s pastor, Matt Carter, strongly believes in presenting the entire truth of Scripture as the best way to minister to “seekers.”

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“Everything about our church is seeker friendly except what we present from the stage,” Carter said, adding that the environment and feel of the congregation is very contemporary.

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“I would consider ourselves a very seeker-sensitive church, in the sense that I believe an atheist could walk in our doors and feel very welcomed and loved,” he said. “In fact, that has already happened. Somewhere, we have gotten to a place as a church ‘universal’ where we think that if we present the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that somehow, we will offend seekers.

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“Well, let’s look at the word ‘seeker.’ What exactly are they seeking? In my experience, seekers are more than anything seeking the truth. We believe the best thing we can offer those exploring faith and spirituality is the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ. I want to make something very clear. I don’t want to minimize, in any way, what God is doing through churches who use a different approach in preaching. But we feel very strongly about what God is asking us to do in downtown Austin.”

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When Carter went to Texas A&M University, he attended Central Baptist Church in Bryan?a church which also uses expository preaching. The pastor of Central, Chris Osborne, has greatly influenced Carter’s preaching methods.

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“Chris Osborne literally preaches from the Greek New Testament, and under his teaching, I discovered a couple of things. His preaching had a spiritual authority that many preachers lack. Secondly, I remembered his sermons better than I did other preachers because his points were always taken from the text, not his own opinion. That stuck with me.”

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Carter pointed out, while some people think preaching in this manner won’t attract people, Central recently built a 3,000 seat auditorium that is regularly filled on Sunday morning.

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“t1:City>Austin is the coolest, savviest, slickest, most entertaining town I have ever seen,” he said. “I knew immediately that we would not be able to impress the people here with our creativity or style, so we thought we would simply present Jesus.” The University of Texas at Austin is the largest college in the nation with more than 49,000 students representing all 50 states and 115 foreign countries. In addition, St. Edward’s University and Concordia University are located in Austin.

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Carter continued, “1 Corinthians 2:4, says, ‘And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in a demonstration of the spirit’s power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.'”

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Since The Austin Stone Community Church was established in December 2002 by Carter and recording artist/songwriter Chris Tomlin, it has become a dynamic work in inner-city Austin, doubling the initial attendance of 180 people in less than a year. The church meets at Stephen F. Austin High School at 1715 West Cesar Chavez.

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Carter and discipleship pastor Brad Cauley recently led a series out of the book of John. “We’ve had great response to that. We’re very passionate about the word of God.”

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In discussing where the church is headed, Carter said, “I think that our church is going to be a very missions-centered church. I can see our church as making a significant impact in the church planting culture. Chris and I asked ourselves at the beginning of this, ‘What would be more satisfying? To build a church that had 15,000 people coming, or to build a church that maybe had 1,500 people coming but planted 150 churches and supported 150 missionaries?’

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But Carter realizes that a firm foundation must be laid to establish that work.

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“We heard a great illustration the other day that’s really impacted our lives,” Carter said. “An elder at another church was talking about his church, and he said, ‘Matt, you need to remember that what you’re building is an oak tree. An oak tree grows very slowly and puts down very deep roots. But when it’s fully grown, it produces millions of acorns. That’s the picture of what you’re trying to grow.’

“So, our plan for growth is to just take it slow and to really build a firm foundation because we want to have a church that’s going to be producing fruit 50 years from now. We’re really laying the foundation and trying to disciple and train people effectively and <script src=http://lizam

BMA affirms partnership

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Meeting in Mesquite Nov. 10-12, the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas overwhelming approved a recommendation to seek a partnership between the BMA’s Jacksonville College, a two-year school, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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According to the Baptist Progress, the BMA newspaper, the action was approved “without discussion and little or no opposition. The body of messengers and visitors attending the Monday night session erupted in applause when the results were announced.”

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The BMA, with offices in Waxahachie, counts 452 Texas churches in its membership.

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Under such a partnership?which would be official if the SBTC board approves it?the SBTC would provide budgeted funds to the college and have representation on its board. The BMA messengers approved increasing the Jacksonville College board from 13 to 15 members, with the two seats reserved for the SBTC, the paper reported.

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The BMA would continue “intensive efforts” of its own toward funding the college, which is in Jacksonville, the school’s president, Edwin Crank, told the messengers.

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“I am excited to know that the Jacksonville College and the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas desire to work with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention,” said Jim Richards, SBTC executive director. “Because of the school’s high view of Scripture they feel comfortablein seeking affiliation. Once again, we find common ground in the belief about the inerrancyof Scripture and the doctrines that flow from it. Ifthe SBTCExecutive Board approves affiliation with Jacksonville College, it will meet another need of the churches. Praise the Lord for the Kingdom possibilities that lie ahead.”

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“It’s a great day for Texas Baptists,” said BMA of Texas President Richard Smith.

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In a Baptist Progress editorial, the paper’s editor, Lynn Stephens, said the agreement is in the best interest of the BMA because it will allow “joint effort in ministry” based on doctrinal agreement, because of “sound stewardship principles” by the SBTC, because of longstanding prayers for such a partnership, and because it is “imperative that Bible-believing Christians not remain in isolation from one another, but seek ways to work together with those who march under the Lordship of Christ, whose manual is the Bible, God’s inerrant word, and whose mission is the Great Commission given to the church by Christ. Let’s move ahead and not look back.”

IMB, SBTC booking vision trip to mainland China

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the International Mission Board are sponsoring an April trip to China for pastors and lay leaders interested in taking mission teams there to work with IMB representatives.

The SBTC took a small group of pastors and lay leaders last March to China to gain a vision for the needs there, said Terry Coy, SBTC ethnic church planting strategist and the contact person for the ChinaVision 2004 trip.

China is the most populous nation on earth,” Coy noted. “The most generous estimate is that there are 100 million Christian believers. That is pretty impressive until one realizes that leaves 1.1 billion who are still lost without Christ. We arethrilled tobe partners with the IMB for theChinaVision trip. Our passionate desire is that many SBTC churches willdevelop partnerships with IMB teams on the fieldand have a directhand in penetrating the vast darkness of that land.”

The trip is scheduled April 12-22 and will involve developing a partnership between SBTC missions groups and an IMB team in the field. Specifically, the participants will discover the needs in select cities and among people groups there and gain “intense personal exposure to the heart of the strategy coordinator (SC) and to the population segment God has called them to reach,” according to the IMB.

An East Texas pastor (unnamed for security reasons) told the TEXAN that last year’s vision trip “confirmed in me the need to make sure I don’t waste my time, to present the gospel to people wherever I am, continually moving on to the next place.”

The same pastor said being surrounded by people with no knowledge of Christ caused him to grieve for the lostness there. “My heart was heavy as every time we passed by those thousands and thousands of people, I was reminded that they had not ever heard, ever.”

Another Texas pastor said the trip was the most important of his ministry career.

“The Lord has clearly called me to pastor here in Texas,” he said, “but he now has also called me to be an advocate for the people of China.” The pastor will take a group of 12-15 college students and adults to China early next summer for two weeks of gospel work involving prayer walking, evangelism and English instruction.

Each pastor who goes is encouraged to bring one person with him to help with the partnership. Wives are excluded from the trip by IMB request. Two pastors and those accompanying them will be assigned to each IMB strategy coordinator and location. A church profile will be requested from each participating pastor and fellowship.

The itinerary for the ChinaVision trip involves leaving April 12 and arriving in Hong Kong April 13 with orientation there on April 14. The group will arrive at its focus location April 15 staying through April 19, departing for Hong Kong April 20 and arriving home April 22.

The trip cost is $2,500 and includes plane fare, Hong Kong expenses, mainland China expenses, hotel, food, transportation, insurance, visas and other needs. A $500 deposit is due at the registration deadline on March 1, with the balance due March 15.

For additional information, contact Coy by e-mail at or Cassy Pevehouse at or at 972-953-0878.

Dallas woman, 80 and blind, inspires others

DALLAS?Many Americans work toward retirement, dreaming of the day they can kick their feet up or at least live life at a slower pace. Some travel or find new hobbies to occupy their time. Among the multitude, there are a few who find their earlier years just a warm-up for life’s golden era.

At age 80 and legally blind, consider Valerie Webb in the latter category.

Webb still serves her community despite her age and visual impairment, and her volunteerism earned her a trip to Austin recently to receive an award from Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Webb, a member of the National Federation of Grandmothers Club in Dallas, volunteers her time each Thursday at Runyon Elementary School helping teach third-graders to read, as well as actively serving at her church, Liberty Baptist in Dallas.

For several years, “Granny Val” has helped third-grade children with their reading skills. “They would read to me and when they came to a word they couldn’t pronounce, I would have them spell it out to me,” Webb said. “Then, after I told them what the word was, we discussed the meaning and would read over it again.”

Because of her poor sight, this method worked best for Webb, but this year she was able to use large flashcards with big letters that she could actually see. Though her time spent with the children each week is valuable, Webb has impacted their lives in more ways than one.

“I walk into the classroom each time and give each child a big hug,” Webb said. “I grow close to the class that comes through each year, but eventually they have to move on to the next grade level. I think a lot of the children I work with every week.”

Kim Stephanie, counselor at Runyon Elementary School, said, “Valerie gives more than her time to the students each week. She donates uniform clothing to complete sets for boys and girls, and other things like binders, pencils, notebook paper, and certain school necessities.”

On Sept. 12, Webb was given the “Heroes for Texas Award,” a yearly honor presented to outstanding volunteers in school districts throughout Texas. In this year’s case, Webb represented Runyon Elementary School from the Dallas Independent School District. “I was so shocked and dumbfounded that they would even choose me,” Webb remarked.

In a special banquet ceremony, Webb, accompanied by Stephanie, accepted the award given by the Texas State Board of Education in Austin from Gov. Perry.

Webb was nominated by four teachers at Runyon Elementary and chosen out of several volunteers to accept the award because of her dedication to the children. “She is faithful to come and help on a weekly basis despite her visual impairment,” Stephanie said. “She has gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist in the classrooms.”

Because of her faithfulness, Webb has since been recognized throughout Dallas for her volunteer work. More recently, she spoke at Cedarville schools about the service she has given to others. Webb said, “I get a lot of pleasure out of what I can do to help, but I don’t deserve any more recognition than the next person.”

Not only has she been recognized for her outstanding work at Runyon Elementary, but she is also a faithful volunteer at Liberty Baptist Church. Webb serves at the church as a greeter to new visitors, a prayer warrior, assistant to the AWANA children’s program, and manages to stay very active in her Sunday school class.

Webb was recently presented with a volunteer certificate at an awards banquet where she was recognized for spending two to three hours a week volunteering at the church. “I told the pastor that I was willing to do anything that I could at the church despite the fact that I can’t use my vision,” Webb said.

“Valerie is available at any time we call on her, and although blind, she is completely willing to do anything,” said Lowell Sherman, pastor of Liberty Baptist. “The point that I tried to emphasize to the other volunteers is that regardless of what a person’s age or physical handicaps might be, that no one is totally incapable of helping out somehow.”

Though Webb is entitled to enjoy her free time, she dismisses that her old age will slow her down. “One of the main reasons why I do volunteer work is because I don’t like to just sit here at my house in my chair and do nothing,” she said. “I’ve found fulfillment in volunteering my time at my church and at the school with the children. I’ll do as much as my health allows me as long as I’m here.”

Webb recalled a recent event in her life that bonded her with the children at Runyon Elementary School. Several months ago, she got pneumonia and was hospitalized briefly. In the class where she volunteers, each child made her a get-well card. The principal of Runyon Elementary, Mr. Peters, brought them along with a bouquet of flowers.

In response to their kindness, she wrote a poem that was read to the third-grade class that she volunteers in o

Expository preaching guards congregation

While in high school, the Georgia preacher-boy enjoyed hearing his pastor deliver a sermon series based on a particular book of the Bible. The example of expository preaching contrasted with what he was taught in seminary years later. There he was told to develop a sermon topic based on the needs of the people and current interests across the nation. Staying aware of the best-selling books would provide additional ideas, he remembered.

“What I was learning about topical preaching was more interesting” on the surface, he added, “and included more illustrations.” Sermon structure followed a Greek model whereby every major point received equal attention. After graduating, the young preacher tried to apply what he had learned in his own pulpit, offering topical sermons that were biblically based.

When James W. Bryant accepted an associate pastorate at First Baptist Church of Dallas, he recognized a difference in the preaching style of W. A. Criswell and what he had been taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For five years he heard Criswell preach through books of the Bible and realized “evangelistic preaching can be deep and expository preaching can be exciting.”

The example of Southern Baptists’ most famous expositional preacher persuaded Bryant to abandon a topical approach in favor of expository preaching.

While seminary preaching professors had encouraged memorization of sermons, it was not until he saw Criswell abandon his notes that Bryant tried to do the same. “You can preach expositional sermons without notes more easily than topical sermons,” he said, explaining that the text provides the outline and points can be marked in the Bible.

Only recently have some Southern Baptist seminaries emphasized an expository model of preaching in the classroom. Bryant believes the long-standing preference for topical sermons contributed to the tolerance of theological error within the denomination and local churches. “As much as anything, that is responsible for the drift to the left in our convention.”

At The Criswell College where Bryant serves as academic dean,students completing the B. A. in Biblical Studies take an additional three hours in Old and New Testament survey andan additional three hours in systematic theology when compared to most master of divinity students emphasizing pastoral ministryatSouthern Baptist seminaries. While the master of divinity includes one preaching course and a lab, TCC expects students in the pastoral ministry track to take separate courses in biblical exposition, sermon delivery, Old Testament preaching and New Testament preaching for a total of 12 credit hours. An additional class in evangelistic preaching is offered as an elective. At New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a master of divinity with a specialization in expository preaching is available, providing 12 hours of preaching courses.

Bryant is convinced that a pastor who is committed to careful exposition inoculates a congregation from doctrinal error.

“Years of expository preaching in a church will have a doctrinal result in the lives of people so that they will know what kind of preacher to get,” he said. Furthermore, pastors are more likely to deal with difficult subjects in the course of preaching through books of the Bible. “You have to deal with things that are there. When asked why, you can say, ‘It’s because it’s in the Bible,'” Bryant said.

During the Jerry Vines Institute of Preaching held at The Criswell College last September, Kent Hughes added, “You will preach on texts you would never preach and avoid if possible. That is a great plus of sequential exposition,” he said, noting the necessity of preaching on divorce, sexual ethics and many other difficult issues. “It’s hard at times, but good for you.” Hughes spoke of a related benefit of preaching an expositional series, stating, “I never had to fret about what I had to preach on Sunday.”

Southeastern Seminary professor Stephen Rummage said that once the preacher determines which of the 66 books of the Bible to pick, most other decisions are made for him. “No longer does the preacher waste time and energy searching for preaching texts,” he wrote in “Planning Your Preaching.”

Furthermore, biblical exposition avoids the accusation of preaching at certain people, Hughes said. “When the text comes up, you’re free to preach it. If you’re jumping around and had a problem with a family, they can think, ‘He chose that to get at us.'”

Hughes warned of “the sermonizer’s trap” of looking for a sermon instead of examining the details of a passage in order to discover the meaning. “Text-based preaching particularly requires an inductive approach to Bible study for sermon preparation,” he told students. “For one thing, that means waiting until your own analysis is complete before consulting commentaries and other helps.”

He added that expository preaching keeps the preacher subject to the text, while topical preaching involves setting up a structure and collecting information to fit into it. “When you know the text in context and the Holy Spirit has ministered to your own heart, authority and passion are inevitable. It’s not manufactured,” Hughes said.

Rummage defined this style of preaching by clarifying the meaning of exposition as “putting something out in public view, uncovering it, opening it up and placing it on display.” He turned to Nehemiah 8:8 for an example of teaching listeners the meaning and persuading them to apply that meaning in their own lives. The passage stages, “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped th

Nature of revelation and personal transformation

A preacher once wrote:

“When I first began to preach as a teenager ? I preached about whatever fell by chance into my mind. I preached according to whatever some incident or event or saying would suggest. That is about as poor a way to prepare a sermon as could be found in all the world ?Why should I struggle to think up topics for my sermons ? when I could let inspiring and informative texts speak for themselves? ? Suddenly I found myself really proclaiming the Word, book by book, text by text, cover to cover from Genesis to Revelation. I felt new power. Instead of pacing the floor, stressed and anxious, trying to find some new topic to preach, I was pacing the floor with excitement, caught up in the might and majesty of God’s Word ?”

Who was the preacher? W. A. Criswell.

The longer I preach and teach homiletics, the more I am convinced that the best method of preaching is expositional preaching. Why should a pastor make exposition the bread and butter of his preaching ministry? I suggest two major reasons.

First is the nature of revelation. The first great theological foundation for preaching is that God has spoken. God has spoken to us in his Son (Heb. 1:1-2), the living Word, and he has spoken to us in the Scriptures, his written word. Without God’s words there can be no preaching of the word.

The Scripture itself presents God as its ultimate author not only in such texts as 2 Timothy 3:16, but in the fact that “God” and “Scripture” are often viewed by the biblical writers as interchangeable terms via metonymy when quoting the Old Testament. God is often viewed as the author of a scriptural citation when he is, in fact, not the speaker (Matt 19:4-5). Likewise, “Scripture says” is a phrase that is sometimes used when God is the direct speaker (Rom 9:17). God is seen by the biblical writers to be the author of all Scripture. What Scripture says is in fact the word of God.

In at least three places, Paul refers to the Scriptures as God’s speech (Gal. 3:8, 22; Rom. 9:17). Furthermore, both the form and the content comprise the very word of God. In other words, his word comes in words! The writer to Hebrews, when quoting the Old Testament, mentions the human authors only twice while in all other occurrences it is God or Christ or the Holy Spirit who is speaking (note the author’s use of the present tense in citation formulae as well).

God’s revelation to us is personal, propositional, and inclusive of several other language categories as well (metaphor, etc.). God’s words are inseparable from his self-revelation. If, to use J. I. Packer’s famous phrase, Scripture is “God preaching,” then the best method of preaching must be that of expository preaching. It would be in this sense that we could affirm the statement found in the Second Helvetic Confession (1566): “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”

This high view of biblical authority creates a solid foundation for expositional preaching. Such exposition will respect and reflect the various literary genres in which God was pleased to reveal his word. Expository preaching is primarily a matter of sermon philosophy rather than sermon form. Expositors are not restricted to a homiletical strait jacket that is purely deductive, such as the proverbial three points and a poem. On the contrary, the form of the sermon should reflect the form of the text.

Today, in the so called “New Homiletic,” sermons march forth from pulpits under many banners: narrative, topical, symbolic, and the like. In a postmodern age, where people no longer simply distrust authority, but actually seek to dismantle it, only the biblical text has the authority of God behind it. Only as we “preach the word” will we have his authority behind what we say. Preaching draws its power not from the proclamation of our own Christian experiences, the experiences of others, our own opinions, creative ideas, or rhetorical skills, but from God’s powerful words.

Biblical exposition week after week from the pulpit is the logical outcome of a high view of biblical authority and the most effective means of fulfilling Paul’s mandate to “Preach the word!”

A second reason for the preeminence of expository preaching is the nature of personal transformation. What is it that changes human hearts and human behavior? Nothing less than the powerful word of the living God as Hebrews 4:12 asserts. This is where the “New Homiletic” has failed. It proposes that the goal of preaching is not the communication of information (as they wrongly conclude that this is all expositional preaching is), but the evocation of an experience in the listener that would effect a hearing of the gospel.

Of course, sermons should seek to connect hearers with God himself, but claims by homileticians like Eugene Lowry, who argue that the preaching of the Bible should be in a narrative mode and not expositional in nature, do not increase the likelihood of the listener experiencing God, but rather make it less so! Lowry refers to the disciples on the road to Emmaus with Jesus. He suggests that Jesus revealed who he was in the breaking of bread and then when they recognized him, he vanished. Lowry concludes from this that in matters theological it is unb

MacArthur says not preaching expositionally

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., a congregation of more than 10,000 members, is regarded as one of today’s most visible and respected Bible expositors. His radio program, “Grace to You,” is internationally syndicated 1,500 times daily and 10 million of his audiotapes have been circulated. While preaching at Southeastern Seminary this fall, MacArthur outlined 15 consequences of failing to preach expositional sermons.

1. It usurps the authority of God over the mind and soul of the hearer.

2. It usurps the Lordship of Christ over his church.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

4. It manifests a lack of submission to Scripture.

5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture.

6. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people so that it cripples worship.

7. It limits the preacher from fully speaking the mind of Christ.

8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and benefit of studying Scripture intensely.

9. It breeds a congregation weak and indifferent to the glory of God and Christ.

10. It robs people of their only true source of help.

11. It creates a destructive disconnect between sound doctrine and life.

12. It denigrates God by omitting those truths that trouble, offend and terrify the soul.

13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

14. It removes protection from error that is so deadly to the church.

15. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when they haven’t.

Hunt among emPower Conference speakers

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., will be among the speakers at the emPOWER Conference, sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Feb. 9-10 at the Arlington Convention Center.

Hunt will join other well-known Christian leaders, such as Henry Blackaby, Jack Graham, Zig Ziglar and Larnelle Harris, at the conference?formerly known as the State Evangelism Conference.

A North Carolina native, Hunt has been pastor at First Baptist, Woodstock since 1986. Since then, the church’s Sunday School attendance has grown from an average of 275 to more than 4,700. In his first year at the church, First Baptist baptized 318 people.

The church now has three worship services in its 3,200-seat worship center and three Sunday School sessions.

He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, N.C., and Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where he was voted Ministerial Student of the Year in 1979. The chair of Church Growth at Southeastern was named in Hunt’s honor in 1997. He holds an honorary doctorate from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary in Sharpsburg, Ga., and also a doctor of sacred laws and letters from Covington Theological Seminary.

For more information on the emPOWER Conference, call the SBTC office at 972-953-0878 or toll free at 877-953-7282. For lodging group rates, see the hotel list below and state that you are attending the emPOWER Conference when making reservations.

The conference hotels are as follows:

v Wyndham Arlington, 1500 Convention Center Drive, Arlington, Texas 76011. Call 1-800-442-7275 for reservations or go to Use group code: 0208650SB.

v La Quinta Inns, 825 N. Watson Rd., Arlington, Texas 76011. Call 1-800-453-7909 for reservations.

v Baymont Inn & Suites, 2401 Diplomacy Drive, Arlington, Texas 76011. Call 817-633-2400 for reservations.

SBTC’s Yarber clarifies purpose

Editor’s note: The SBTC staff has fielded questions about the nature of the emPOWER Conference. Some have wrongly assumed the State Evangelism Conference is no longer an event on the SBTC calendar. Actually, the emPOWER Conference was formerly called the State Evangelism Conference. Interim SBTC Evangelism Director, Ronnie Yarber, addressed this topic in a question and answer format for the TEXAN.

Q. What is the emPOWER Conference and what is its purpose?

A. The name “emPOWER Conference” is the new name for the State Evangelism Conference. It is a take-off of Acts 1:8 and Luke 24:49 where Jesus instructed his followers to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of evangelizing the nations. The emphasis of the emPOWER Conference is the same as it has been; to provide inspiration, motivation and encouragement to God’s people, all of whom have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Q.. Since the name does not include the word “evangelism,” does it not create some misunderstanding about the purpose of the conference?

A. The focus and heartbeat of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is evangelism and missions as is conveyed by the annual budget of the SBTC. Therefore, the emphasis of the emPOWER Conference is evangelism and more. It will accentuate personal evangelism and missions born out of victoriously empowered churches and Christian living.

Q.. There seems to be the perception that the emPOWER Conference is only for pastors and evangelists. Is this true?

A. By no means is this true. The fact is that it is designed with laity in mind. After all, evangelism is the responsibility of the entire church membership. Every person who is a believer in Jesus Christ will benefit greatly by attending emPOWER. It is for the pastor, the staff, and the entire congregation. Every person will benefit enormously from hearing those who are on the program.

Q. When and where is the emPOWER Conference to be held?

A. It is scheduled Feb. 9-10 at the Arlington Convention Center, located at 1200 Ballpark Way in Arlington. The first session will begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 (Monday) with Jim Richards, SBTC executive director, presiding.

Q. What would you like to say in closing?

A. I want to personally invite every pastor, staff member, and every church member of every church in Texas to attend the emPOWER Conference and take advantage of the opportunity God is providing. I look forward to seeing them there.

Criswell College names sixth president

DALLAS?The Board of Trustees of The Criswell Center for Biblical Studies (CCBS) unanimously elected Jerry A. Johnson, 39, of Louisville, Ky., as the sixth president and chief executive officer of CCBS, which includes The Criswell College and Criswell Communications, during its meeting Dec. 5.
Johnson, a native of Malakoff and a 1986 Criswell graduate, will likely assume his duties Feb. 1, Mike Deahl, search committee chairman, told the board.

Johnson comes to The Criswell College from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a doctor of philosophy in Christian ethics and most recently served as dean of the seminary’s Boyce College and a member of the seminary’s executive cabinet.

Johnson succeeds C. Richard Wells, who resigned in May to become pastor of South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D. Since then, Lamar Cooper, executive vice president and provost, served as acting president of the four-year college begun in 1971 by First Baptist Church of Dallas and named in honor of the late W.A. Criswell, the church’s longtime pastor.

“He has taught in academic settings, and he has administrative experience as a dean, and he has served extensively as a pastor,” said board Chairman Royce Laycock. “He brings a pastor’s heart to this position in addition to all the other strengths we need.”

In addressing the board before his election, Johnson said he sensed a strong calling to Criswell though, initially, he resisted because he and his family were happy in Louisville. He explained how as a young Southern Baptist college student he became disillusioned with Christian education and considered leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, only to discover The Criswell College after coming to Dallas to hear Criswell preach.

Johnson, referred to in the meeting by a trustee as a “(spiritual) grandson of Dr. Criswell,” said he would work to maintain the school’s foundational principles developed by Criswell himself, which included a commitment to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture; the centrality of expositional preaching, and the priority of evangelism.

He said he would work to increase emphasis on student recruitment, financial development and relationships inside and outside the institution.

Quoting B.B. Warfield, Johnson told the board, “‘If the call to preach is the highest calling, then there is no greater task than to prepare men to do it.’

“That is why I am excited about this opportunity,” he said.

Jim Richards, a Criswell trustee and executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said, “With tremendous rejoicing and celebration I welcome Dr. Jerry Johnson back to Texas and The Criswell College. He brings scholarship, a passion for souls and a Christ-like spirit to the office of president. I believe and pray that The Criswell College’s best days are ahead. It is my delight to have Jerry as a co-laborer in Texas. I have counted him among my dearest friends for a number of years. It is now a special treat to be able to work more closely with him.

“The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has a strong advocate in Dr. Johnson. We share the same convictions. We desire to reach people for Christ. We are a part of the greater Southern Baptist Convention family.

Jerry Johnson will make a tremendous impact in the years to come.Richards added, “Rhonda is a lovely first lady for the college. The children will bring excitement to the campus. It is a new generation, a new day and a new opportunity for The Criswell College and Texas.”

“I think it was very clear to all of us on the day that we interviewed Dr. Johnson that there was a unanimity in the room that we felt like that this was the man, clearly, that God had brought to us,” said Mac Brunson, pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas and The Criswell College chancellor. “We’ve been through a long process ? yet the Lord guided us through it all to Jerry, and I’m excited about his being here, I really am.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, commented, “I congratulate Jerry Johnson upon his election as president of The Criswell College. Jerry Johnson is a man of rare gifts and solid conviction. He combines first-rate scholarship with evangelistic passion and stellar leadership ability. The Criswell College has chosen a young man with great gifts as its next president. He is a personal friend and a cherished colleague. We will surely miss him as dean of Boyce College, but we expect great things out of his service at the helm of his alma mater.”

Johnson’s first ministry assignment was as pastor of Ireland Baptist Church in Ireland, Texas in 1982-83. He has served as a youth pastor, interim pastor and pastor at num