BUDA?Many church leaders have turned their attention to reaching out to men. Pastor David Sweet of Hays Hills Baptist Church in Buda said he has read several articles over the past year that discuss the decline of men in the church.
“Oftentimes church is a little bit more of a woman’s domain,” Sweet said. He said the church has to do a better job of providing activities more geared toward men.
So his church is trying to do that, beginning with young men and even reaching a young female or two with a ministry involving air-soft pellet guns.
Sean Sivils, youth minister at Hays Hills, has two young boys and wanted to find a way to get them involved in male-oriented activities. Sweet described Sivils as “an outdoor type of guy.”
With his two boys?ages 12 and 15?and several of their friends, Sivils started an air-soft gun ministry.
Joining the terms guns and ministry may sound strange, but it’s working, attracting about 10 new students to the church campus every week to shoot and hear the gospel. A short devotion and gospel presentation is the cost of admission, Sivils said.
An air-soft gun is similar to a BB gun but safer. The gun shoots a 6 mm plastic ball instead of a metal one and can be operated with CO2 or a battery. They can range in price from around $50 to $1,500.
“It’s kind of like paintball,” Sivils said. “You can spend as much as you want on an air-soft gun.”
The games played with the air-soft guns are similar as well. There are several different variations of the game, but usually teams are divided up and the shooting begins. When a player is “shot,” he’s out. Last team standing wins.
The air-soft ministry started about a year ago. The group meets on Sunday evenings on the church campus, which has several acres of undeveloped land where forts have been built for the games.
Before the shooting begins, players take part in a Bible devotion. Sivils said he talks about a topic, such as leadership, from Scripture.
“And we get to share Christ every week.”
Recently the church hosted an air-soft lock-in, bringing in generators to power lights so the games could go on through the night.
Six people accepted Christ during the event, Sivils said.
Sweet said the ministry might not be “politically correct” with the guns involved. But, as Sweet reminds, most little boys grew up playing army with toy or imaginary guns.
He said there has been some who scoff at the idea of having guns?even fake ones?at church.
“We just explain the benefits of the ministry and they’ve adjusted to it,” Sweet said.
The church sees about 50 people show up on Sunday night to play air-soft. Of those 50, about 60 percent are members of the church. The rest either attend another church or don’t attend at all. The majority are teenage boys, but dads are also showing up and about seven or eight girls are usually part of the mix.
AUSTIN–Hoping to encourage the participation of SBTC homeschool families at the annual state convention meeting held Nov. 13-14, special opportunities were provided for homeschoolers that included meetings with three Southern Baptist leaders, a study hall, internships and a tour through an exhibit area featuring Southern Baptist ministries.
Sonya Daily brought all three of her children along, and had an unusual experience, which, although initially frustrating, led to an exciting turn of events. After some confusion with schedules, which caused them to miss the homeschoolers’ tour of the state history museum, the family hurried back to the conference, afraid of missing the governor’s speech, and actually ended up on the front row as he walked through.
“It completely made up for not going to the museum,” Daily says. “We got to see him and shake his hand. It was crazy how the events of the day ended up for me, but I was thrilled to death that the kids got to see the governor,” Daily said.
Even her 9-year-old daughter Sophia, and 11-year-old son Stephen enjoyed going through the exhibits and getting all the freebies such as pens and calendars.
“We certainly enjoyed all the speakers and appreciated what the governor had to say,” Daily said, calling his message encouraging for Texans and Christians who were there. She definitely plans on attending again next year, where she hopes there will be even more opportunities for homeschoolers.
“I would like to see the Southern Baptists keep expanding that door,” she said. “I think there’s a big group out there who just haven’t gotten plugged in yet.”
One missionary family who homeschools was among those seated at the front for the governor’s speech, shaking his hand as he left the auditorium. Joe Bryan said his girls were “very much enlightened by all the speakers,” adding, “My youngest had the opportunity to low-five the governor.”
Brenda Clements, who has been involved with Baptist churches for years and attended many similar conferences, said this year’s convention was helpful and well-organized.
“Overall, the conference was a good experience for the kids and a good time for us as a family,” Clements said. “I really appreciate the Southern Baptists of Texas acknowledging homeschoolers in a positive way,” she continued, “and their efforts to include homeschoolers in the convention.”
Fourteen-year-old Cathy was excited to be able to take pictures at the convention, enjoyed attending the different presentations with her parents, and said she would definitely like to go back next year when the meeting will be held in Arlington. Her 17-year-old sister, Beth, enjoyed hearing Perry, stating, “It’s a blessing to know that godly men are leading our country.”
She said she thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on the Resolutions Committee, learning more about the issues discussed which ranged from immigration reform to persecution of Christians in Darfur.
Resolutions committee chairman Marlene Boswell encouraged allowing several homeschooled students to observe their deliberations over several days.
“I think they learned all the work that goes into researching, presenting, defending, and coming to a conclusion before sending that resolution off to press and then defending it before the body,” Boswell said.
While working as a group is not always easy, they eventually come to a consensus, she said.
“I think the students learned confidentiality, compassion, and admiration for all the pastors that were in that group. Even though we had differences of opinions, the one thing that bound us together was our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.”
Plans are underway for similar opportunities for homeschooling families when the SBTC Evangelism Conference is held in Euless Feb. 5-6. For more information contact Tammi Ledbetter by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on home education in Texas, contact karla Sessions by e-mailing her at email@example.com.
The Southern Baptist Church and Home Education Association provides information on support and fellowship for Southern Baptists who are home educating their children with details available at www.sbchea.org. The SBCHEA’s annual Kingdom Education Summit will be held during the annual meeting of the SBC next summer in San Antonio.
EULESS?Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, is among the preachers scheduled for the Empower Evangelism Conference sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Feb. 5-7 at First Baptist Church of Euless.
Others include Wichita Falls evangelist Jay Lowder, retired LifeWay Christian Resources president James Draper, Lynchburg, Va., pastor Jerry Falwell, and others. Tuesday’s Cooperative Program Luncheon will feature Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page and Wednesday’s Senior Adult Luncheon will feature comedian Dennis Swanberg.
The conference theme is “God’s Amazing Grace,” based on Ephesians 2:4-7.
Evans, whose preaching is broadcast daily on more than 500 radio stations, is the co-founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and founder of The Urban Alternative, which seeks to bring spiritual renewal in urban America through evangelical churches.
The first African-American to earn a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary?an honor he received in 1982 after earning a master of theology at DTS in 1976?Evans has taught evangelism, homiletics and black church studies at DTS.
He also has served as a chaplain for football’s Dallas Cowboys and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
A father of four children and grandfather to six children, he was named “Father of the Year” in 1989 by the Dallas Father of the Year Award Committee Group.
He was also honored by the Family Research Center with the Marian Pfister Anshutz Award for his “dedication to protecting, encouraging and strengthening the American family.”
The author of 23 books, his latest, published by Multnomah, is titled “Dry Bones Dancing.”
SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass said he prays those who attend will “take back to their churches the things they have learned.”
“The main purpose of the conference is to equip and inspire people to do the work of evangelism. So I certainly hope this will be a springboard or a catalyst to help increase baptisms in the local churches, that we would be zealous for the kingdom of God, more compassionate toward lost people, and more passionate for Jesus.”
A women’s session on Monday afternoon will feature Laurie Cole, Dawn Smith Jordan, Jaye Martin and Priscilla Shirer, daughter of Tony Evans.
Page, elected the SBC’s president last June in Greensboro, N.C., is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.
“We are grateful that Dr. Frank Page has agreed to be the keynote speaker for the SBTC Cooperative Program Luncheon,” said Troy Brooks, SBTC director of minister-church relations. “As a pastor he has demonstrated his strong commitment to the time-honored Cooperative Program. As SBC president he has shared his passion for the CP with churches across our convention.
“We eagerly await his message to the churches in the SBTC. We are expecting a sell-out crowd so we are encouraging our folks to purchase their tickets now. They may do so by going to our webpage (www.sbtexas.com) or by calling Traci Ravelo at 817-552-2500.”</ST1<