Month: February 2004

Teams needed for Taiwan mission effort

Dub Jackson, the SBTC’s partnership evangelism consultant, said the Taiwan Baptist Convention has invited the SBTC to send 50 teams of 4-10 people?one for each of Taiwan’s 50 Baptist churches?to lead in preaching, music and outreach July 18-25. The teams will leave Texas July 14 and return July 26.

Of 23 million people in Taiwan, only 3 percent are Christians, according to information from the Taiwan Baptist Convention.

A veteran of international missions work, much of it in east Asia, Jackson said invitations from native people groups are necessary in such partnerships. Nehemiah Tsai, executive director of the Taiwanese Baptists, initiated the partnership, Jackson noted, because of the Taiwanese Baptist Convention’s desire for a greater evangelistic emphasis in 2004.

Under the supervision of the local churches, the Texas teams will likely present the gospel in schools, service clubs and jails and have opportunities to address the news media and civic leaders.

Many of the Taiwanese are Buddhists. The partnership needs people “with the faith to believe that a person can receive Christ by just a simple prayer of faith, asking for forgiveness and accepting the eternal life that is promised.”

The estimated cost will be $2,795 per person, which includes travel, lodging in a premium hotel, and meals, Jackson said. For more information, contact the SBTC evangelism office at 972-953-0878.

Short takes for February 2 2004

• A married Utah couple wants to add another wife to the mix. Their lawsuit says that Utah’s constitutional ban on polygamy violates their constitutional rights. As a fine column in the Jan. 20 (t1:place>Ft. Worth) Star-Telegram asks, “Why not?” Remind yourself and those around you that the Supreme Court of the United States majority opinion scoffed at the idea that their June 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision (overturning a Texas anti sodomy law) would open the door for other “private” activities formerly deemed unlawful. You’ll see more of this, because they were wrong.

• A Plano meeting of Episcopalians was the first step in forming a “protest network.” The protest, of course, is related to the appointment of a homosexual bishop. It is significant that they did not say “reform” since their polity makes this very difficult. One reporter suggested that the group will not leave the church because congregations that depart will be forced to cede their land to the denomination upon doing so. Read our set of stories on ecclesiology in this issue if you haven’t. This stuff matters.

• President Bush said encouraging things about marriage during his State of the Union address. I agree with ERLC’s Richard Land in wishing that he had taken the next step in supporting a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage from our runaway judiciary. I believe the President will support a marriage amendment eventually. His statements thus far express agreement in principle but do not go far enough in proposing a remedy. None of his likely opponents in the 2004 presidential campaign have even approached his level of support.

SBTC women’s ministry regional conferences

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s women’s ministry has scheduled regional conferences in five cities for 2004. “The Lydia Principle: Living with Purpose,” will be a two-day event?Friday night and all day Saturday.

The conference is scheduled March 5 and 6 at Southside Baptist Church in Abilene; March 26-27 at River Hills Baptist Church in Corpus Christi; April 2-3 at Arlington Park Baptist Church in Arlington; April 30-May 1 at East Paris Baptist Church in Paris; and Sept. 24-25 at San Jacinto Baptist Church in Amarillo.

The conference will include the following speakers and topics:

Jackie Roese, a native of New York state, will speak about the parable of the talents from Matthew 25. Roese’s husband, Steve, is pastor of Irving Bible Church and she is a frequent speaker at women’s conferences and the author of three Bible study booklets.

Gency Fortenberry will speak about “being Jesus” in our conflicts and on the topic: “Help! I’m a Minister’s Wife!” She is the wife of Mike Fortenberry, pastor of East Paris Baptist Church in Paris, where she has coordinated the women’s ministry for 10 years.

Margaret Kennedy will address the importance of accountability as a safeguard for faithful Christian living. Kennedy founded Threads of Hope, a Bible teaching and writing ministry. She has a weekly radio program and is a LifeWay Christian Resources trainer.

Barbara B. McKinney will speak on the freedom and joy of knowing one’s spiritual gifts. McKinney and her husband, Nelson, have led evangelistic crusades internationally and she is a frequent conference speaker.

Edwina Patterson will address hearing God’s voice. Patterson, founder of A Heart for the Home Ministry, draws from personal experiences in her teaching. She is also a prolific writer and radio host.

Deborah Brunt will speak on “Key Truths for Leading Well” from Jeremiah 3:15. She is the women’s ministries and missions specialist for Oklahoma Baptists and is a contributing writer for newspapers, Journey devotional magazine and Focus on the Family’s women’s website, Renewing the Heart.

Jean Williams, co-founder of BIONIC Women of God Ministry, will address how God’s word reveals his wisdom to us and how we can convey it to others. Her husband, Jerry, is pastor of Mount Hebron Baptist Church in Henderson, where she leads women’s Bible studies.

Shirley Moses, SBTC women’s ministry consultant, will speak on beginning or rebuilding a church-based women’s ministry throughout three sessions. “My heart’s desire is to be a resource for the women across the state as we work together to help grow strong churches that bring God glory,” Moses wrote in the conference brochure.

Chris and Diane Machen will lead praise and worship in Paris, Corpus Christi and Abilene.

The conference begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening and concludes at 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, contact Shirley Moses at or call the SBTC office at 972-953-0878.

SBTC begins regional emPOWER rallies

The first two of six regional emPOWER Rallies hosted by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention were held Jan. 11 at Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio and Jan. 18 at Gardendale Baptist Church in Corpus Christi. The two rallies combined drew more than 1,400 participants, including 1,000 in Corpus, and included simultaneous events for children, youth, and adults.

During the Jan. 11 rally, a combined choir and orchestra of more than 100 people led the congregation in music before evangelist Bill Tisdale preached on “Motivations for an Effective Evangelistic Ministry” from 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. Tisdale said the words minister and ministry do not apply only to those who are ordained to ministry as a vocation, but to all believers.

The children’s rally, which was led by Parkhills Miniter to Children, Rhonda Black, included a game requiring teams to guide blindfolded teammates between two points on a floor map. Black explained that the Bible is one’s road map to heaven and that the Bible teaches Jesus is the only road to heaven.

The youth event opened with high-energy praise led by the Christian band Rhythm and was followed by youth speaker Pat Cammarata. Tom Cottar, SBTC director of student evangelism, said three students made salvation decisions. “This being the first time we have done this regional rally in San Antonio, we didn’t really know what to expect,” Cottar said, “but it went well.”

Perhaps the high note during the first two rallies was the Jan. 18 presentation of the W.A Criswell Lifetime Achievement Award for Pastoral Evangelism. The award, presented posthumously to Bob Meadows, longtime pastor of Gardendale Baptist Church, was originally scheduled to be presented to Meadows at the state emPOWER Conference in February. Meadows died in December. At Gardendale, he baptized 3,230 of the 4,000 converts he won to Christ during his ministry. Meadows’ son, Roy, the pastor at Westland Baptist Church in Katy, accepted the award on behalf of the family.

“If my dad were here tonight, he would ask each one of you to win at least one person to Jesus this year. He had souls on his heart.”

Previous recipients were W.A. Criswell, Ralph Smith, John Bisagno, E.L. Pennington and Ronnie Yarber.

The Corpus Christi rally drew about 1,000 people from at least seven churches. Both rallies registered professions of faith (exact numbers were unavailable at press time).

A third was scheduled Jan. 25 at Port Arthur’s Ridgewood Baptist Church. Future regional rallies include Feb. 22 at Lifeway Fellowship Baptist Church in Odessa and Feb. 29 at Exciting Immanuel Baptist Church in El Paso.

The statewide emPOWER Conference is Feb. 9-10 at Arlington Convention Center (see story, Page 5).

Church Planting Movements amaze some missiologists

Where do you go to find the gospel spreading in unprecedented ways? Instead of looking to one of 42,000 Southern Baptist churches, some missiologists point to amazing accounts of church-planting movements (CPMs) overseas.

Mission strategist David Garrison wrote the book on CPMs, serving as an associate vice president for strategy coordination and mobilization at the International Mission Board before his current assignment as a regional leader in South Asia. He defined a church-planting movement as “a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.”

Garrison believes the goal of all efforts is for God to be glorified, a natural result of individuals entering into right relationship with him through Jesus Christ. “As they do, they are incorporated into churches which enable them to continue to grow in grace with other like-minded believers,” Garrison wrote in “Church-Planting Movements.” “Any time people come to new life in Jesus Christ, God is glorified. Any time a church is planted?no matter who does it?there are grounds for celebration.”

The IMB defines a local church as “a group of baptized believers covenanted together into a community by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of worship, fellowship, nurture and ministry, with the following characteristics:

• meet regularly for worship, fellowship, and mutual support in ministry;

• proclaim Christ to unbelievers;

• disciple believers;

• organize and administer their affairs, choosing leadership who may or may not be paid, trained, ordained or one of the members of the group; and

• administer the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Those characteristics fall in line with the terminology of church growth experts who describe the marks of a healthy church by their pursuit of five purposes: 1) worship, 2) evangelistic and missionary outreach, 3) education and discipleship, 4) ministry and 5) fellowship. “In each of the Church Planting Movements we studied, these five core functions were evident,” Garrison wrote.

IMB writer Erich Bridges cited these examples of church-planting movements:

• A new missionary led a local student to Christ. He immediately taught the student not only how to share the gospel with others but how to teach them to share with still others. Hundreds of people became believers within months.

• Another missionary evangelized and trained his language tutor, who in turn led a housemaid to the Lord, who led her husband to the Lord, who led his in-laws to the Lord, followed by a dramatic physical healing and stiff persecution. The eventual result: Within six months, a tribe that once had no Christian believers had churches in more than 20 villages.

? In a third case, a missionary worked with several cycles of church planters who began a cluster of congregations among a tribal group. Six months later a second generation of churches was born. They also began reproducing, and within 18 months a third generation emerged.

Southern Baptists have one missionary unit [or couple] for every 1.8 million people, according to IMB President Jerry Rankin. That figure expands to one unit for every 9.6 million people in South Asia.

“Even the most effective personal witness would never be able to touch such a large population segment,” he said. As a result, Rankin and other IMB leaders look to church-planting movements as the best way spread the gospel. “A network of local churches potentially makes the gospel accessible to an entire people group, a nation and the whole world,” he told IMB trustees last fall.

Recognizing that the grassroots phenomenon of CPM can be fertile ground for heresy, Garrison believes the key to sound doctrine is God’s word. “In the explosive church growth environment of the first century, there were no seminaries, simply a practice of ‘teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you,'” he said, citing Matt. 28:20. “Out of this mandate grew a number of approaches to discipleship and training. The challenge of the first century has changed little for us today and invites the same types of creative responses to ensure a continued faithfulness to Christ’s teachings.”

One of the best ways to stifle such incredible growth is to impose extra-biblical requirements before viewing a group of believers as a church, he warned. “When a mission, union or convention attempts to require a congregation to have extra-biblical things such as land, a building, seminary-trained leadership or paid clergy before granting them full status as a church, a church planting movement is obstructed,” Garrison wrote.

“Christians may have the best of intentions when they impose preconditions before officially constituting a church?preconditions usually aimed at ensuring viability of the church before leaving it to its own devices. However, requirements such as building, property and salaried clergy quickly can become millstones around the neck of the church and make reproducing itself all th