Month: April 2006

Christian compassion ‘peculiar,’ ‘not normal,’ NAMB leader says




ARLINGTON?”It’s good to be odd for God.”

That’s what Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at the North American Mission Board, told yellow-shirted disaster relief leaders at the annual Disaster Relief Roundtable, April 25-27 at Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington.

Burton quoted 1 Peter 2:9, which describes Christians as “a peculiar people” set apart to do God’s will. Disaster relief volunteers exhibit abnormal behavior as they travel hundreds of miles in crowded vehicles?often with strangers?to volunteer, he said, relating his son’s description of their wardrobe as “inspired by Big Bird.”

“It’s not normal to choose to sleep on a floor or shower in a trailer that has wheels on it. It’s not normal to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning?if you even get to sleep at all?to cook thousands of meals, often in high heat and high humidity,” Burton said.

Carrying chainsaws to other states to remove debris from the houses of strangers, packing up materials to care for children they’ve not yet met, and risking health by shoveling mud and muck out of flooded homes are other indicators that Southern Baptist volunteers don’t lead normal lives.

“Folks, you’re peculiar, you’re different because God has done something in your lives,” Burton said. While sitting at home viewing a disaster on television might be easier, he noted, “Our norm is defined by our calling, however peculiar that might be to the rest of the world.”

Burton cited examples from among the 51,782 trained Southern Baptist volunteers ?half of them new to disaster relief during 2005.

Sarah Jo Trimble, an assistant state feeding coordinator from Florida, led feeding units in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Lake Charles, La., and later served as a liaison to FEMA for Hurricane Dennis and to the American Red Cross during Hurricane Wilma.

Looking across the audience to Trimble, Burton said, “Sarah, you’re not tired and you’d do it again. That’s odd and I’m glad,” prompting cheers in the crowd.

Carrying chainsaws to other states to remove debris from the houses of strangers, packing up materials to care for children they’ve not yet met, and risking health by shoveling mud out of the flooded homes, are other indicators that the Southern Baptist volunteers are not living normal lives.

“Folks, you’re peculiar, you’re different, because God has done something in your lives.” While sitting at home viewing a disaster on television might be easier, Burton said, “Our norm is defined by our calling, however peculiar that might be to the rest of the world.”


Burton gave examples from among the 51,782 trained Southern Baptist volunteers?half of them new to disaster relief during 2005. Of the 2,089 SBTC volunteers, 1,939 signed up in 2005.

Even the Cooperative Program method of funding Disaster Relief is outside the norm, Burton explained. “Our choice is to cooperate?it’s our strength.” In less than 20 years God has taken Southern Baptist Disaster Relief “from buddy burners to mobile units that can produce tens of thousands of meals,” Burton said. “He’s chosen you for this task. You are set apart.

You are his treasure, his possession, and that’s worth celebrating.”

During the 2005 hurricane season, 500 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units representing 41 state conventions operated for 184 days, utilizing 21,000 volunteers whose time amounted to 165,748 volunteer days. That accounted for more than 14.5 million of

SBTC’s confession: Just broad enough

Recent action at the SBC International Mission Board trustee meeting clarified how internal trustee issues were to be settled. The policy concerning missionary appointment of those who practice a “private prayer language” stayed in effect. While the Baptist Faith and Message does not address the tongues issue, the trustees are within their authority to set the parameters. Conventions, associations, ministries or churches are also free to set their own points of fellowship.

Some have accused the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention of being creedal because we are a confessional fellowship. Churches are simply asked to “agree with the foundational beliefs of the SBTC set forth in its Constitution and Bylaws.” The beliefs are expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 and adopted by the SBTC the same year.

Thankfully the nature of Scripture, the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ, the office of pastor, marriage and the beginning of life at conception are all affirmed in the BF&M 2000. The statement is specific about subjects that need clarification. Individuals and churches are free to believe what they want, but for a collection, network, or convention of churches there must be a minimal set of beliefs for cooperation.

Regarding some subjects, there is wide latitude in our statement of faith. One such subject is the process of the second coming of Jesus. Article 10 is brief but clearly states that Jesus is coming again. It does not mention the tribulation, millennium or other aspects of the end times. By virtue of the broad language many interpretations fit within Article 10. A person could believe in a pre-, mid-, or post- tribulation rapture. A person might also be pre-, post- or a- regarding the millennium. Personally, I have a position on the subject of the manner of the return of Jesus but it would be inappropriate for me to impose my interpretation on the churches of the SBTC.

Other theological issues that are highly debatable also fit within the framework of the BF&M 2000. Some Southern Baptists affirm the “doctrines of grace” while others hold possibly to only one point of Calvin’s much-discussed TULIP. The SBTC is broad enough under the BF&M 2000 for both interpretations.

We gladly plead “guilty” to being a confessional fellowship, but do not label us creedalist. There is plenty of room for interpretation within the Baptist Faith and Message statement to allow diversity and cooperation.

Let us keep the common ground we have and reach out to others who share our same core values. God bless you as you serve our Lord.

Knowing you’re absolutely, always right ? priceless

Maybe therapists are the secular pastors of our age — they’ll offer us palatable counsel when no one else will — but practitioners of the hard sciences are our priesthood. It’s almost hilarious to see earnest nerds switch between scornful statements against religious fundamentalism (characterized by confidence in any revealed religion) and an evangelistic passion for non-provable explanations of nearly everything.

Maybe your mind went immediately to Darwinism, and that’s the prime example. It’s not the only one though. That debate roils while we move on to new issues like global climate change. The danger is that we’ll fall for about anything said by someone who acts smarter than we consider ourselves.

Here’s an example. In his book “Freakonomics,” Steven Levitt tells of Mitch Snyder who, in the 1980s, was a leading expert on homelessness in the U.S.?the critical issue of that decade. He startled everyone with his assertion that more than one of every hundred Americans was homeless. As he spoke across the country he once told a crowd that 45 homeless people die each second. We lapped it up. Someone finally did the math and figured that this number would mean 1.4 billion dead homeless people every year. That is nearly 500 times the number of homeless people Snyder claimed lived in the U.S.

When confronted with the number, our expert admitted that the media pushed him for the stat until he finally made up the homeless percentage and the death rate. And yet it was some time before anyone examined his claim for plausibility. We had already declared it a national crisis by that time. Maybe it was but we acted before we knew it to be true. It should make us wonder how many other things we just accept because some smart guy says it.

That kind of gullibility spreads like panic in a crowded theater. It’s a short trip from a 30-second clip on a morning news magazine to the front page of Time (even shorter to Newsweek). By then, student debaters are quoting the experts du jour with great passion. Some of them decide to make a career path change toward righting the wrongs or alleviating the suffering they read about in the news. If the cause turns out to be nothing or less than stated, it just fades into the background noise of our nation’s mythology.

How about global warming? Most scientists agree (that phrase is a warning) that the global temperature has gone up about one degree over the past 100 years. This might have resulted in droughts, floods, famine, and the melting of polar ice.

A clear majority of Americans also believe global climate change to be real, threatening, and within our power to stabilize. We didn’t get that opinion from our careful reading of scientific journals. We got it from popular news outlets yelling loudly in our ears and eyes. Such an opinion is easily formed and difficult to correct as the evidence starts to clarify.

Evangelical leaders recently signed on to a statement calling global warming an issue of compassion and mercy for the poor. They too accept warming as established science and a significant threat. Those scientists and laymen who don’t accept it are, by definition, hacks or shills for the oil companies.

And yet, as George Will pointed out in a recent column, 30 years ago global cooling was the trendy crisis. Global temperatures were observed to have dropped by one-half a degree between the 1940s and the 1970s. We were warned by some to prepare for a new Ice Age (hundreds or thousands of years in the future), that growing seasons were shortening, and that famine and poverty would be magnified by every year we delayed in making drastic changes in our (American) lifestyles. Scientists were not unanimous on this but those who doubted were derided by true believers as hacks or shills for the energy companies.

I don’t know they are wrong about global climate change. Speculation about causes, consequences, solutions, the severity of the change, etc. are all over the map and make confidence in the experts more difficult. Their contradictory certainties and cont1:PersonName w:st=”on”>tempt for those less shrill than themselves also present a challenge for those of us who want to understand. It is reasonable to say that they don’t know they’re right, at least not to the degree they claim.

Now we come to Darwinism. The volume with which “objective” analysts in the evolutionist camp are willing shout down dissenters

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Southeast Texas town sees 214 salvation decisions during ‘Festival of Hope’ crusade





Churches in the Southeast Texas town of Cleveland joined for a “Festival of Hope” crusade March 26-29 and saw 248 recorded decisions, including 214 professions of faith. The crusade, originally scheduled for October but delayed by Hurricane Rita last fall, was the first “Festival of Hope.”

Sponsored in part by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention evangelism division, the “Festival of Hope” concept is tailored to cities of 25,000 population or less. The Cleveland event featured longtime crusade veterans John McKay and Joe Simmons, who also serve as evangelism consultants to the SBTC, and evangelist Ronnie Hill.

NAMB President Robert Reccord Resigns




Mr. Barry Holcomb

Chairman, North American Mission Board Trustees

4200 North Point Parkway

Alpharetta, Georgia 30022

Dear Barry and Trustee Body:

It is only after much prayer and discussion with my family that I have decided to resign my position as president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention(NAMB). Indeed, serving our missionaries across North America, our staff in Atlanta and Dallas, and our state conventions has been one of the great highlights and privileges of my life. I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to lead this organization for the past nine years.

Certainly in leaving, I have mixed emotions. I am thankful for the countless numbers of people we have seen come to Christ and the thousands of churches we have seen planted and nurtured. I am thankful that we have received a clean financial audit. I am proud to be associated with the most incredible missionaries in the world. I am pleased that the agency’s ministry has been one of integrity, reaffirmed in recent days by receiving an absolutely clean financial audit.

On the other hand, I regret we were not able to complete a number of things which we have started or dreamed about. I regret that events of recent weeks have created an environment which makes it difficult to lead the organization and to stay “on mission.” I regret that many dedicated staff members have been affected by the events of the recent days. I regret the toll that much of this has taken on my family.

In my final analysis, I have found it increasingly difficult to be an entrepreneurial leader within a denominational structure. I hope, through nine years of service as NAMB’s President, two years of chairing the SBC Implementation Task Force that restructured the Convention, and over thirteen years of pastoral experience that I have demonstrated my love for and commitment to Southern Baptists and all for which we stand.

I also hope I have demonstrated a Kingdom heart and mindset. It is this mindset, and my entrepreneurial bent that have led us to explore more effective applications of technology and media; strategies for reaching a wider range of demographic groups; and creative evangelism initiatives. It is my prayer that this agency will never stop dreaming and planning for reaching people of all ages and stages for Christ, and then equipping and helping them to be “on mission” for Him in all they do.

Southern Baptists everywhere can be proud of their North American Mission Board’s effectiveness and efficiencies. They can be proud of their missionaries. They can be proud of the disaster relief work that has been done by their volunteers and staff, all helping so many put their lives back together physically, emotionally and spiritually. They can give with confidence that tremendous financial efficiencies have been achieved as a result of the denomination’s restructuring and a conscientious staff’s diligent efforts.

Finally, after much quiet thought and prayer, I believe that honest philosophical and methodological differences have brought us to this point of separate directions. Recent months, as tumultuous as they may have been, have allowed me to refocus on my passions and God’s primary calling in my life. My mother-in-law’s stroke, my own mother’s needs, and my daughter’s heart surgery have <SPAN style="; FONT-FAM

Trustee statement on resignation of Dr. Bob Reccord




As Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I stand here today with Dr. Reccord to say “Thank You” for nine years of tireless service to the North American Mission Board. He has faced what have been at times overwhelming challenges during the founding years of a new agency. With the help of the Lord, the great staff of NAMB, and the many trustees who’ve served throughout the years, Dr. Reccord has worked to integrate the Brotherhood Commission, the Radio and Television Commission, and the Home Mission Board into what is now known as the North American Mission Board. As an agency we’ve seen growth in many areas, including increases in our church planting efforts that have brought into Southern Baptist life over 12,250 new congregations, a significant increase in mission personnel and the dramatic increase and impact of our disaster relief work.

Through the years, we’ve had our share of challenges that accompany any new organization. As a board and as an agency, we’ve had important decisions to make related to the BFM 2000, our chaplains ministry, and even the status of some of our cooperative agreements. Through it all, Dr. Reccord has sought to provide leadership that was both consistent and visionary.

Several weeks ago, an article appeared in the Christian Index here in Georgia that called into question the effectiveness of NAMB under Dr. Reccord’s leadership. While it is disappointing at the way in which this was handled by the Index, I respect the right of Southern Baptists to ask hard questions of its agencies. In response to the article, Dr. Reccord requested that two independent studies be done. The first was a financial audit by the respected firm, Capin Crouse LLP. They examined all financial records of NAMB thoroughly and determined there to be a clean financial bill of health, and Dr. Reccord had done nothing unethical in the way he oversaw finances as president.

The second study Dr. Reccord requested was an investigation into the claims raised by the article in the Index about NAMB. He asked me to appoint a task force of Trustees to do this. I convened a meeting of eight trustees, who spent many hours talking with employees at NAMB and examining the pertinent issues. The task force report, which was released publicly to communicate to Southern Baptists that at NAMB we have nothing to hide about the way we work and function, found that at a number of points the article was inaccurate. Those inaccuracies were clearly identified in the report. In a couple of other areas, the task force made some recommendations for policy changes at the Board. That being said, however, I want to remind everyone today about the purpose and nature of the report. The task force report was designed solely to respond to the issues raised by the Index. As such, it was a very factual response that reflected the findings of the task force. Read in a vacuum, one might leap to the conclusion that nothing positive has happened at NAMB over the past nine years. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, any impression gleaned from our report that suggests that the Trustees are either unaware or unappreciative of the many strong accomplishments at NAMB by our President or our people is incorrect. I believe I speak for our board when I say that we are very grateful for the wonderful ministry that has been accomplished by our missionaries and our staff, under Dr. Reccord’s leadership.

As I reflect on the findings of the report, there are several things that I want to say. First, I’m grateful to the trustees who worked on the report, and those who adopted it. Second, I’m grateful that their report, like the financial audit clearly stated that there was no evidence that Dr. Reccord had done anything unethical in his role as President. I believe that important fact has been lost in all of the conversation and articles written about the report. Dr. Reccord’s integrity is strong and solid today, and I want to emphasize it clearly. Third, I want to thank Dr. Reccord for responding as a leader should. It is a rare individual indeed who can face the issues he has faced without lashing out in anger and frustration. Dr. Reccord has exhibited the fruit of the Holy Spirit as he has patiently and lovingly responded to the issues. He has taken responsibility for the things that occurred on his watch, and he has been willing to make corrections where they were needed. Fourth, and finally, I’m grateful that together we have walked through this challenging time with grace and dignity.

Contrary to some opinions, Dr. Reccord is in no way being asked to resign, let alone forced to resign. First, he is taking this step for what he feels is best for Christ’s kingdom. While others might have placed their own personal well-being ahead of what was best for NAMB, Dr. Reccord is doing just the opposite. I believe that this is one of the strongest evidences of his personal character and integrity. He has a strong love for our missionaries, for those who work within NAMB and for our trustees. And so taking the high road of leadership on behalf of our missionaries, our agency, and our convention, he is resigning today as president.

Dr. Reccord referenced the second reason he is making this decision in his personal statement. There are times in the life of every agency when changes are made, not on the basis of crisis, but in large part on the basis of vision. Dr. Reccord has aptly noted that in convention life, entrepreneurial leadership and denominational requirements may be at odds with one another. This is no one’s fault?it is simply a reality. There is no question God has some special things in store for the next chapter of this “out of the box” thinker.

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Patterson on tongues: God could do it again, but call for an interpreter




FORT WORTH?Baptist evangelicals recognize that the charismatic movement shifts the focus of attention from salvation in Jesus Christ to the person of the Holy Spirit, stated Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson in an April 4 chapel address. Instead, he reminded, “The major work of the Holy Spirit is to point our attention away from himself and to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In one of a series of messages on the Holy Spirit he has been preaching throughout the spring semester, Patterson said the “critically important process” of building doctrine must be done by “majoring on what the Bible majors on and putting to the side that which is difficult, if not impossible to understand and explain.”

Unlike some cessationists on the seminary faculty who believe none of the sign gifts are applicable today, Patterson said, “The same God who made it happen in Acts 2 could make it happen again if he chose to do so.” He described the gift of tongues as expressed in Acts 2 as having a specific purpose in bringing men to Christ.

“The Spirit of the living God worked a miracle,” he added. “I don’t know if it was in the speech of those who spoke or the hearing of those who heard, but probably in the speech of those who gave the message. They proclaimed Christ to those who could not have heard it unless they heard it in their own languages.”

“They were speaking languages they’d never formally studied for the purpose of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he stated. “When we come to 1 Corinthians 14, it would appear there is something different,” offering one of three possible interpretations of the passage.

First Corinthians 14 instructs that “if a man speaks in a tongue he speaks not to men, but to God,” which seemingly contradicts the Acts 2 account “to speak to men the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Patterson said, offering three possible explanations. He led with a view held by early church father John Chrysostom?and Southwestern’s Executive Vice President Craig Blaising?that all references to tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 are the same gift described in Acts 2?actual known human language.

“The vast overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. who have any view” regarding the gift of tongues hold to a second view that there are two separate gifts?one in Acts 2 that clearly speaks of a language never studied and one in 1 Corinthians 14 represented by “a rush of indeterminate sounds for the purpose of praising God and for self-edification.”

A third view, to which Patterson subscribes, considers the only legitimate gift of tongues to be found in Acts 2.

“There is also an attempt to imitate in the power of the flesh that which the Spirit of God did in Acts 2 and it is that which you will see in part, but not in whole, in 1 Corinthians 14.”

Similar expressions of tongues were common in the Roman Empire, he said, noting accounts from Aristophenes, Plato and Irenaeus.

After pointing to Paul’s illustrations of distinguishing a flute from a harp and the need for a certain sound of a trumpet to prepare for battle, Patterson noted the interchange in 1 Corinthians 14:10 between different kinds of languages and unintelligible speech. He regarded the verse as Paul contrasting the gift given at Pentecost?intelligible language, with the Corinthian effort to imitate it through unintelligible speech.

In the current debate over the legitimacy of a private prayer language, Patterson said advocates often turn to Romans 8:26.

“You can’t get it there,” he insisted. “The Apostle Paul said when he reached the point where he didn’t know what to say in his prayer, that the Holy Spirit gave him the ability to pray with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

He defined groanings as “no spoken communication at all,” according to the Greek text. Instead of oral speech, it was “the yearnings of the heart for God,” Patterson explained.

The only other appeal for the practice might be found in 1 Corinthians 14:15 where Paul said he prefers to pray with understanding. The lack of intelligible speech makes it impossible for those in the congregation to offer affirmation, Patterson said.

In his book “The Troubled Triumphant Church, An Exposition of First Corinthians,” Patterson provided a more detailed examination of the relationship of the text to current Christian practices. During the chapel address he recommended Neil Babcock’s book “My Search for Charismatic Reality” as a thorough examination of the subject of speaking in tongues.

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Church planters seeing fruit in hard labor




BURLESON?Why are new churches popping up everywhere here in the Bible Belt, where a person couldn’t throw a decent-sized rock without hitting a church of some kind?

Scott Beebe, pastor of a new church plant in Burleson called LifePointe, said the reason is simple: “The only reason we started our church was because the 100 other churches down here are not full.”

Burleson is a growing community south of Fort Worth. Beebe said his research showed him that Burleson was 70 to 80 percent unchurched. So in January 2005, Beebe accepted the call and started this new work.

In another community on the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Steve Burrell is beginning a new church plant called The Journey. Burrell began his work in May of 2005 by knocking on doors and doing surveys in the Collin County community of Frisco?one of the nation’s fast1:PersonName w:st=”on”>test-growing cities.

Starting a new church is not an easy job, both pastors confessed, but there are victories along the way, they agreed.

Burrell said he is seeing God open doors in a way only God can. His church has been able to reach out to families of other faiths that might not come to a traditional church building.

“I believe God is the giver of honor,” Burrell said, “that if someone connects relationally with you (as a church), that God does that work.”

Beebe said it is a privilege seeing people come to Christ. He has seen husbands read the Bible for the first time and people who were calloused broken by God’s grace.

“I don’t just rejoice in the people who accept Christ for the first time and begin to follow him, but I also rejoice in the people who are spiritually far from him, even though they believe in him, but they were not following him actively, begin to follow him.”

Burrell said his definition of a Christ-follower is a person who is “learning who Christ is and doing what he says.”

Both churches are about a year old. Burrell said his church has about 25-30 people at services every weekend. Beebe’s congregation has grown a little faster with 120 people attending.

Local churches, the TEAM Church network, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention assist in helping the church plants grow. Some of this help comes in the form of money, people, coaching and networking.

Burrell said one of his biggest challenges has been wanting to skip to the end and not going through the process patiently.

“I want to be self-sustaining ? a thriving church. But in order to get there, there has to be this tight relationship-building.” And that has to come first. He said it’s harder casting the vision of the church one-on-one versus sharing the vision with an entire congregation.

Burrell said one difficulty he experiences is learning what to say and how to say it to a person who has never heard the gospel or who is a new Christian with no church background. For example, he said it takes some work to relate the concept of tithing to a person with little or no church background.

“I usually spend about 10 percent of my time in preparation in front of a dictionary because I’m having to break down some pretty religious terms into terminology that normal people understand,” Burrell said.

Both pastors said they are reaching people by becoming a part of their communities. They knock on doors. They host block parties and Christmas parties. They meet people where they are.

Burrell said his church also recently hosted a series of parenting seminars to help reach a community that has a lot of young families moving in.

“We felt that because Frisco was so family oriented, we would do something to benefit families and by doing that we would create a crowd,” Burrell said.

The Journey had about 80 families sign up for the “Parenting Empowering Seminars.” Many of those families are returning to other seminars and small groups.

Burrell and Beebe agree that part of their success will be in connecting these people with smaller groups.

Burrell said his follow-up plan to the parenting seminars includes inviting people that come back to continue to grow their parenting skills in small groups within the church.

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600-plus SBTC churches increase giving to CP missions in 2005




EULESS?This past year, more than 600 SBTC churches increased their giving to missions through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program?the collective missions-funding mechanism begun in 1925.

Among those churches was First Baptist Church of Euless, which increased its giving 145.86 percent?a bump of $177,456.

Bill Anderson, interim pastor of FBC Euless, said, “My experience has been that a church is always spiritually energized by increased mission giving?. Of course, one of the benefits of increased CP giving is the fact that reports of CP successes energize the congregation in a way it wouldn’t if we didn’t give to it.”

Southern Baptists voted to establish the Cooperative Program in 1925 after years of societal missions fund-raising, which entailed direct and often competitive solicitation of churches by missions groups.

The Cooperative Program has gotten attention of late, mostly out of concern that a new generation of Southern Baptists know little about it.

A committee charged with studying a range of financial solutions within the Southern Baptist Convention is recommending that entities promote the Cooperative Program by continually referencing and promoting it in publications and printed materials, Baptist Press reported.

The SBC Funding Study Committee issued its fourth interim report to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee Feb. 20, saying that more needs to be done to educate younger generations about the benefits of the Cooperative Program.

Through the CP, more than 5,000 international missionaries and another nearly 2,500 North American missionaries are funded. Beyond that, the tuition of thousands of seminarians is essentially half of what it would be at similar independent institutions because of CP missions.

Anderson said of the Cooperative Program, “Southern Baptists are known for devising a highly functioning plan by which every Southern Baptist can participate in a grand strategy to witness to the entire population of the earth?. We do not claim to be perfect, but we do claim that God has blessed our approach and Southern Baptists are committed heartily to our process.”

First Baptist Church in Fort Worth increased its CP giving by 6 percent this past year. Pastor Don Wills told the TEXAN, “Our church has always been involved in missions efforts, but we felt like we needed to do more for kingdom work.”

Of his church members, Wills said that many of them had been faithful to give throughout the years and had been blessed as a result.

“We value the (Cooperative Program) because of the church-planting efforts made possible through the SBTC ? and its heart for missions as a state convention.”

Houston Northwest Baptist Church increased its giving through CP by 82 percent from 2004 to 2005. Mark Howell, teaching and discipleship pastor, said the church has “a heart for missions, and our people value the work of the Cooperative Program as it relates to helping our church fulfill the Great Commission.”

“This past year, we hosted a missions conference and have had numerous missions emphases,” he said. “As a result, we have witnessed a renewed interest in giving, particularly as our giving relates to world missions.”

“I have benefited from the Cooperative Program by receiving a seminary education that is second to none,” Howell said. “(And) our church has benefited from the Cooperative Program by the number of people who have answered the call to full-time mission work.”

Howell added, “It is one of the main features that sets Southern Baptists apart from other denominations. It is a joy to partner with thousands of other Southern Baptist churches to accomplish together what we could never do alone.”