Month: May 2009

Pastor’s evangelism passion evident at Fort Worth church thriving near housing project

FORT WORTH?Jason was panhandling for beer money outside a gas station one Wednesday night where Damon Halliday stopped to buy a Pepsi.

Hungry, homeless and half-drunk, Jason (not his real name) approached Halliday, pastor of Keystone Community Outreach Church, located in the middle of a Fort Worth housing project. “Jason asked to borrow a dollar, but I told him I couldn’t do that if he’d buy beer with it,” recalled Halliday, who continued talking with Jason and soon mentioned Jesus.

“God doesn’t love me,” Jason barked. “God has abandoned me. God has forsaken me. I have no reason to live. I’ve lost my job and my family.”

“Any time I mentioned God, Jason got irate,” Halliday said. “But I could tell he was an intelligent man, and the Lord showed me how to reach him.”

Halliday said he recalled what Alan Streett, professor of evangelism at Criswell College, taught about two kinds of evangelists: one proclaims the truths of God, which some people debate. The other is a witness: a person who tells others about their personal and undebatable experience with God.

“You can’t tell me that I don’t love you,” Halliday told Jason.

“Well, I guess I can’t,” Jason replied.

“I do, so give me a hug,” Halliday insisted.

The black preacher and white alcoholic hugged.

“Mark, you can’t tell me that I don’t know that God loves you,” Halliday continued.

“You’re getting a little tricky now,” Jason said.

“God told me to tell you he loves you and he wants me to give you another hug,” Halliday replied.

Reticent to elicit a response to the gospel from a drunk man, Halliday gave Jason his business card and said, “I’m committed to help you, and I will as much as I can. But you need to have sober judgment. Call me tomorrow.”

To Halliday’s surprise, Jason called. The men met for two hours, but Jason was still hostile toward God and the church.

“You keep trying to rationalize this thing,” Halliday told Jason. “If you’ll surrender your life to God, I guarantee he will change it.”

Jason prayed penitently and also committed his life to Christ that day.

“The day before, this guy was suicidal and homeless,” Halliday said. “But the next
day, he comes to church to find God, and I find out he’s a computer genius with a four-page resume and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Jason is the greatest example of how a commitment to practice and teach evangelism blesses an individual and the body of Christ, Halliday said.

“He has impacted the church with his amazing giftedness, and he is committed to build the body of Christ too,” he added, saying that Jason, within a week of his own salvation experience, brought a friend to church who also became a Christian. The two were baptized on the same day.

Halliday said Jason was just the guy God had in mind to format and operate Keystone’s new audio/visual system.

“God sent Jason to handle that ministry,” Halliday said. “And in 10 weeks’ time, God restored almost every good thing in his life,” including a reunion with his children and a job in the computer field.

“That’s a picture of what God has called us to do. And when we do what we’re supposed to do, God is glorified, people are saved and the church grows,” Halliday said, adding that he wonders what would’ve happened if he just gave Jason a dollar and kept on walking.

Church in the ‘hood

Founded more than 20 years ago, Keystone’s attendance had dwindled to about a dozen. The pastor was in ill health and looking for a successor. Two years ago, Halliday?who had left his mechanic job with American Airlines to attend college and prepare for ministry?met with the retiring pastor. That was Halliday’s introduction to his first pastorate.

Halliday couldn’t think of a better location for a church?in a notorious Fort Worth neighborhood known as Stop 6. Named after a rail-line station, Stop 6 is rife with prostitution, drugs and gang activity.
Additionally, the church sits inside a government housing project. To Halliday’s thinking, the church is strategically positioned for proclaiming Jesus Christ.

“The reason God sent me here is because I’m a product of the same kind of environment,” Halliday said. “I grew up in the inner city of West Philadelphia. It was a lo

SBTC board hears CP report, hires church planting missionary for borderlands

NEW BRAUNFELS–Despite the challenging economy, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention continues to fund Texas missions and evangelism while sending 55 percent of Cooperative Program gifts from local churches toward Southern Baptist missions and ministry worldwide.

That was the message the SBTC Executive Board heard during reports at its meeting April 27-28 at T Bar M Retreat Center in New Braunfels.

Faithful giving, a record state missions offering from 2008, and careful spending priorities allowed the convention staff to report a positive financial picture for the first third of 2009.

“There’s a heightened interest in the Cooperative Program among SBTC churches,” reported SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, adding that loyalty to the missions giving plan is growing. “We had to rebuild confidence in the Cooperative Program over our first 10 years and now churches are beginning to once again see the validity and wisdom of CP.”

That cooperative effort of the 2,141 affiliated churches made it possible for the executive board to approve a new church planting missionary associate, Chuy Avila, for outreach through “Project Borderlands Reach.” Avila will serve the highly under-evangelized area of Laredo as a missionary church planter.

Avila has served as a church-planting strategist for Hispanic work at the Tennessee Baptist Convention for the last decade. He has prior experience with Midland Baptist Association and served on the Hispanic Task Force of the North American Mission Board. He will begin Aug. 1.

A native of Juarez, Mexico, Avila said he sensed a call to ministry as a child when he watched the transformation of his father’s life after a medical missionary led him to Christ.

“I’m a strong believer in the Cooperative Program. That was one of your missionaries who showed up in my home and changed my father and my family. He managed to buy a tent, Bibles and pay his expenses because people like you prayed and paid for missions.”

Convinced that he is called to equip church planters, Avila said God had burdened him with the spiritual needs in Laredo where over 95 percent of the quarter-million population is Hispanic.

Board member George Levant described the desperate need to plant churches in the region where he has lived for more than 25 years.

“If we reach 1 percent of the Hispanic population [in Laredo] that would be four times more than we’re reaching now,” he said, describing the conditions in which only a dozen Southern Baptist churches minister.

“Voting is not enough and giving is not enough. We need to pray for him,” Levant said in recommending Avila. “It’s a lot of work to do. I feel with all my heart this is the man for this hour.”

Missions Director Terry Coy said Avila would serve as a catalyst for church planting, developing a comprehensive three- to five-year strategy for starting new churches and training planters. The effort will be jointly funded by NAMB and the SBTC.
Responding to a question about the availability of Hispanic pastors and church planters, Coy said the supply is inadequate to meet the need.

“We’re trying to raise those up, sometimes from the harvest and sometimes from the churches,” Coy said.

Others are being cultivated through SBTC’s Hispanic Initiative coordinated with Criswell College, Jacksonville College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to prepare Hispanic pastors and leaders for the next generation of Hispanic ministry in Texas. Seven students are taking advantage of the training through Criswell College.

The board also approved the affiliation of 58 more churches and heard a report from the credentials committee that shows a pace of two or three additional churches per week. Seventeen churches were removed from convention affiliation, 14 of them having disbanded or merged with another church. Two voted to no longer relate to SBTC and one became a non-denominational congregation.

A request by board member Terry Turner of Mesquite seeking consideration of a supportive relationship with a local pregnancy resource center was referred to the Facilitating Ministries department.

The executive committee also reported they had followed through with a request to allocate from the previous year’s surplus a grant of $65,000 for the Dakotas Baptist Convention. As part of an ongoing partnership with DBC, the funds will assist with church planting leadership development and the Sturgis Bike Rally evangelistic outreach.

Messengers to last year’s convention approved a 2009 SBTC budget of $23.9 million, which reflected a 14 percent increase over the prior year. Giving through the cooperative Program by local churches had funded around 99 percent of that ambitious goal as of the board meeting.

At the end of April, two days after the board met, Cooperative Program giving was within a few thousand dollars of the 2009 budget for the first four months of the year. Prudent spending has allowed the convention to operate at a surplus for the year to date.

Vern Hargrave of the accounting firm of Pickens Snodgrass Koch reported a clean audit of SBTC financial statements.

You should be proud of the way business is conducted,” he told the board. “It is done in a very professional and efficient manner.”

Addressing the CP giving report after the meeting, Sookwan Lee, co-pastor of Seoul Baptist Church in Houston, told the TEXAN: “Other denominations have a top to bottom” approach for funding while some churches attempt to fund missions “acting by themselves.”

Recalling that the Southern Baptist Convention was formed to fund missions, Lee added, “The most important thing for a church is missions. If we do not contribute to the Cooperative Program, the convention doesn’t mean anything.”

Board member Terry Turner of Mesquite recalled that his church was planted through the use of CP funds.

“We saw the benefit of church planting and how the SBC poured into our ministry,” he said, explaining why Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church values the Cooperative Program.

In a final item of business, SBTC cousel Shelby Sharpe was honored by the executive board for his service since the convention’s founding with a framed copy of Proverbs 3:5.

Economic downturn spawns career help ministries

Bible open on her lap, Ann sits in the same pew of the church she’s attended for nearly 15 years. Distracted about her husband’s joblessness, she hardly hears the pastor talking about meeting others’ point of need, and suddenly that strikes a nerve.

“What about our point of need?” she inquires silently, reflecting on her husband, Fred, who’s been jobless and depressed for months.

She reaches for a prayer request card from the pew rack, but the echo of Fred’s voice in her head grabs her arm. He’d told her explicitly not to tell anyone of his plight.

Meanwhile, Fred, who is not a Christian, sits at home in his recliner, channel surfing. Every button on the remote temporarily blunts his emotions of anger, frustration, despair, shame.

Tom sits across the aisle from Ann. A long-time, active church member, he traces the outline of colored shapes on his pants leg cast from the stained-glass window as he ponders his lack of a job and wonders why all that the church has done is add his name to a prayer list.

“Jesus met people’s needs. Why doesn’t my church help me with mine?” he thinks.

Tom can’t understand why God’s other children aren’t ministering to him. In the midst of a vibrant church family, he feels like a spiritual orphan.

In the current economic downturn, churches across Texas have increasing numbers of members like Ann and Tom, who face the challenges of unemployment?alone.

But there are also increasing numbers of churches responding to the needs of “Anns” and “Toms” and even “Freds” by offering a variety of career helps in addition to adding names to prayer lists.

“Our ministry is still in the developmental stages,” said Derek Rowden, minister to single adults at North Richland Hills Baptist Church. “But we try to encourage and equip the men and women in our community who are experiencing career transitions.”

The church recently began its “Third Thursday at Three” ministry to unemployed people. Meeting at 3 p.m. every third Thursday of the month, Rowden recruits career coaches to speak at the meetings, who offer the gamut of career advice.

“We’ve found that people are looking for all kinds of help in their job searches,” he said. “And this gives an opportunity to minister to those not in our church fellowship.”

Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall has a 12-year track record of ministering to jobseekers, offering much of it online. A couple of clicks on the site’s home page takes surfers to one of the most complete, church-sponsored career search-and-advice sites to be found anywhere on the web.

The “Job Connection” site represents a ministry that is a networking, support and resource group assisting local residents in job searches. The fee-free service entails a five-pronged approach:

?weekly meetings for networking and informational purposes, including resume writing, interviewing techniques, etc.;

?e-mail-based user group offering job leads;

?a job resource room at the church offers job seekers daily Internet access with free coffee, copying and faxing privileges, and also offers free access to Crossroad Career’s subscription-based website ( and direct web links to more than 300 Dallas-area corporations;

?a lecture series aimed at organizing and preparing job seekers; and

?resources from the church’s media library that include CDs and DVDs regarding career-based information and training.

Helpful links at Lake Pointe’s site include the Christian Career Center Website, Making Career Decisions Within God’s Will for Your Life, Exploring Careers to Discover Your Career Niche, The Career Check Up Inventory,

A Great Commission Resurgence–Texas style

In November 2008, messengers to the 10th anniversary of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting passed a resolution that defines “Great Commission Resurgence” pretty well. Perhaps the document can be a complement to the statement proposed for the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Louisville.

Many will know already that SBC President Johnny Hunt, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin, and others have called for a missionary resurgence as a follow up to the already established Conservative Resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s. The thought being that evangelism and missions have not flourished in the SBC over the past 50 years and this fact indicates a deep problem we should address in some way.

Dr. Akin’s formulation of 10 axioms has become the centerpiece of Johnny Hunt’s presidential agenda. They’ve set up a website and many are speculating on an extensive plan for restructuring the denomination that could grow out of what Hunt hopes will be a groundswell. You’ll find the stories at the bottom of this article.
I believe the SBTC’s resolution is complementary to this emphasis because it has a finer focus. It is more local in its source, was more local in its editorial process, and was adopted by a smaller (compared to the SBC) denominational fellowship. The resolution rose up from the grassroots as an effort to clarify a term that was becoming a buzzword in denominational circles.

There is a “we will” or “we do” aspect to resolutions that makes them personal. Rather than calling for someone else to do something, the resolution begins with the messengers, although there is certainly an implied “ought to” for other believers and churches. One example of this grassroots spirit is the expanding conviction among local pastors that expository preaching has multiplied advantages for teaching the whole counsel of God. Another might be increasing efforts by churches to ensure that church members are regenerate and well-grounded. The SBTC resolution did not cause these positive trends but did encourage them and served as a personal affirmation of these local church virtues for convention messengers.

The resolution also attempted to take the actual wording of the Great Commission and apply it to local church ministry. This is beneficial in keeping the implications of the exhortation grounded in scriptural priorities. Where Jesus says “All power has been given to me,” the resolution recognizes his lordship and authority. In answer to the call to make disciples, the resolution commits the messengers to disciple-making. Jesus also commanded us to teach as a part of disciple-making; the resolution commits those who affirmed it to teach the members of “our churches.” The command to teach was further clarified to indicate “all things” that Jesus’ disciples had been taught. The next “resolved” is to “promote and practice text-driven preaching and teaching of the whole Bible.”

Where our Lord commands us to go to all nations with the gospel, the resolution commits its adherents to be “Christ’s witnesses both at home and abroad.”

There is also an appropriate Baptist flavor to the resolution. The last “resolved” specifies basic Baptist interpretations of doctrine as a crucial part of teaching “all things.” This application is fitting because we are Baptist Christians–believing that the doctrines that define “Baptist” are based on the best understanding of our Lord’s teaching. Why would someone want to be a Baptist if he doesn’t believe in the Lordship of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, salvation as exclusively by grace through faith in Christ, believers’ baptism by immersion, regenerate church membership, congregational church polity, the priesthood of believers, church discipline, and religious liberty?

For our state convention, the Great Commission Resurgence is a call to the essentials of local church ministry. That is the complex, though simply stated, answer to all the problems of Southern Baptist churches and denominational bodies made up of Southern Baptist churches. Our convention ministry addresses these priorities by resourcing the teaching, evangelism, doctrinal, missionary, and spiritual work our churches undertake. We can’t fix a church problem, but we earnestly listen, observe, analyze, pray, plan, and implement with a goal of matching appropriate resources to help churches succeed in their God-given ministries. That’s the denominational component we bring to the commitment our convention messengers made in resolution four last November.
Nothing in our resolution is contrary to Danny Akin’s Great Commission Resurgence document. Ours is a local and practical response to the call of our Lord to love him (by obeying) and love others (by sharing).
On the SBC side of the question, many speculate what will come of President Hunt’s plan to form a task force to develop denominational responses to the Great Commission. There are a few things I’d like to see result from Dr. Hunt’s leadership. These are things the national denomination is able to provide for the local/global ministries of Southern Baptist churches:
>A thorough, unapologetic commitment on the part of leaders, spokesmen, and employees to being Baptist. No more, “I’m a Southern Baptist, but?” please. We all understand that our convention is not perfect in detail or in whole. Skip the disclaimer. People generally dismiss the phrase before the “but” as less important than the one after. If Baptist doctrine is simply an earnest effort to discern biblical doctrine, no apology is needed.
>Continued provision of biblically solid resources and training for churches, associations, and state conventions. The span of services provided in states and communities by our seminaries, mission boards, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, GuideStone Financial Resources, LifeWay Christian Resources, and the Executive Committee is pretty broad. Discover the priority services Southern Baptist churches require and ensure that those are sufficiently addressed by some means even as we rethink our convention’s structure.

>Specifics regarding programs and agendas that undermine gospel-centeredness. No one denies that we go off on harmful tangents, although we might not agree on which efforts are tangential. To repeatedly—in sermons, publications, seminars, on blogs, or in tweets—make veiled “prophetic” statements about people and agendas without being willing to speak plainly sows division as much as anything else we do. Tell us what you mean every time you sat it.

>Consistent modeling of the virtues upon which we all agree. Let our meetings, our guest preachers, our programs, our new initiatives all be disciplined to avoid unbiblical preaching, pompousness, shallowness, and waste. If Southern Baptists believe the Cooperative Program is a God-blessed tool for addressing the Great Commission, let off those we exalt be exemplars of this specific kind of missionary support.

>A sacrificial example of denominational streamlining, I agree that organizational reform, like doctrinal reform, never stands still. We are either advancing or retreating. The SBC has only moral influence over other levels of denominationalism. Show us how important reform is by what our convention leaders do in their own ministries.

I agree with the idea of a convention-wide spiritual emphasis to more perfectly follow Jesus’ commands. What could be more basic? I’d love to see a focused and effective commitment to basic Baptist doctrine and action begin with denominational leaders and catch fire in state conventions, associations, and most importantly, in churches. More likely, that wave will start in churches and move outward, though. And that seems like the way it ought to be.

A Great Commission Resurgence is a different sort than the earlier reformation of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was relatively easy to inform grassroots Baptists about theological infidelity within some of our convention institutions. It was real, demonstrable, surprising, and outrageous to their eyes. They changed denominational leadership thoroughly so that the teachings of the churches were reflected in the institutions the churches built. It wasn’t easy but the challenge of plotting and implementing a comparable rework of the way our convention does missions and evangelism looks vastly more complex and harder to explain. It’s a spiritual problem already on the mind of nearly every church leader in our convention. No surprise, no ignorance, no “show up and vote” solution to the problem(s).

Convention leaders, elected and employed, have influence and regularly use it to address one part or another of our cooperative mission. Johnny Hunt and Danny Akin have set out to do that in a more expansive way than we often see. I pray that this effort will bear good fruit within our convention and among our churches. I also pray that more pastors and local leaders will catch a vision for the basic mission of all Baptist Christians and let it begin with their own ministries. When the two visions, from our SBC leaders and from the churches, meet in the middle, then we’ll have the thorough reformation and revival we desire.

On the Great Commission Resurgence’ (excerpt)

The following is excerpted from the SBTC resolution titled “On the Great Commission Resurgence,” approved by messengers in November 2008.

RESOLVED, that on the tenth anniversary of our convention, that the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Houston, Texas, November 10-11, 2008, express our heartfelt appreciation to those who worked diligently to bring about a Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we express our sincere gratitude to those who were led of the Lord to birth the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ and submit to His authority in every aspect of our lives including His Great Commission; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we hereby commit ourselves and our churches to carrying out the Great Commission of our Lord by making disciples; and be it further

RESOLVED, that as we pursue a Great Commission Resurgence that we intentionally work to teach the members of our churches the precious doctrines from the Word of God that will distinctively preserve our Baptist identity; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we devote ourselves to both promote and practice text-driven preaching and teaching of the entire Bible and how it relates to Christ and God’s redemptive plan; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we lead the members of our churches to participate in the Great Commission by being Christ’s witnesses both at home and abroad and proclaiming the gospel message that everyone must repent of sin and trust in the finished work of Christ alone for salvation; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that we covenant together earnestly to preach and teach “all things” as Christ commanded in the Great Commission without minimizing or trivializing biblical doctrines such as: the Lordship of Christ; the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture; the exclusivity of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; believers’ baptism by immersion; regenerate church membership; congregational church polity; the priesthood of the believers; church discipline; and religious liberty.

Full text available at

REVIEW: “Finding a Job God’s Way: Moving into the HOV Lane of Your Career”

David Rawles (Hannibal Books), 224 pages

“Finding a Job God’s Way” offers hope and help for anyone seeking career fulfillment. In the prologue Rawles writes: “We conduct our workshops and seminars to help people learn practical applications to find their dream jobs and achieve their highest career ambitions.”

The book is appropriately characterized by one reviewer as “a moral compass for job-seekers.” Though Rawles offers spot-on advice regarding the gamut of issues related to a job search, his treatise explores and defines requisite aspects of assessing, understanding and applying the God-ordained combination of one’s skills and desires in a manner that offers personal satisfaction and spiritual reward in finding the right job.

Well-salted with sage wisdom from the Bible and advice from seasoned, notable people who’ve succeed in their own career journeys, the book doesn’t view spirituality as an afterthought to one’s career path. Rawles believes spirituality is foundational to one’s career choices as evidenced by the book’s title and the numerous, contextual Bible verses that pervade the pages of his offering.

Chapters are divided into numerical sub-points?58 in all to be exact. Varying in length, the sub-points usually extend from two to four pages, thus increasing the impact and readability of each point. Add to that a concise writing style and conversational content, and “Finding a Job God’s Way” transcends the textbook-ese of similar books because the copy floats off the page as though you’re listening to a beloved friend’s counsel.

In the first chapter, “Healing and Equipping,” Rawles advises readers with sincerity and aplomb on the touchy issue of an unpleasant job history. Simply put, Rawles says to move on?forgive and forget?while noting that anger, bitterness and vengeful attitudes are not the building blocks of a successful job search. In a separate chapter, he suggests ethical ways to handle past occupational unpleasantries.

Regarding resumes, cover letters and interviews, Rawles’ traditional advice offers exceptional practicality. Considering interviews specifically, Rawles’ observations on non-verbal communication in the chapter “Powerful Hidden Language” suggest that eye contact, smiles and enthusiastic hand gestures add energy to the conversation and punctuate one’s words memorably. He further advises that tone-of-voice, leaning forward, and nodding at appropriate times reveal attitudes and the job-seeker’s level of interest.

As is typical with the book, Rawles notes biblical examples to get readers to consider non-verbal communications such as when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, King David danced, Peter jumped from the boat, Jonah turned toward Nineveh, and when Jesus stepped from the tomb.

“Many examples exist in which body language says more than words can ever say,” Rawles writes.

This book offers excellent fodder for youth leaders and parents of teens who want to give high-schoolers the proper perspective and biblical motivation for career choices. It could serve as a guide for small group study regardless of the age of the participants.

Whether preparing for a first-ever interview or looking to leap up the corporate ladder, reading Rawles’ book is job one?which will make finding the next one that much easier.

REVIEW: “The Christian’s Career Journey: Finding the Job God Designed for You”

Susan Britton Whitcomb (JIST Works), 308 pages

If there’s but one word to describe Susan Britton Whitcomb’s discourse, it’s detail.
Other reviewers offer apt words of assessment like biblical, inspirational, interesting, invaluable, practical, helpful and a must-read. But the overarching descriptor of “The Christian’s Career Journey” is detailed. Readers will benefit from the insights and expertise that have earned Whitcomb top-rank among her peers, and will have at their fingertips one of the most complete job search guides with a Christian perspective to be found.

Packed comfortably and completely into 14 chapters, the book is divided in three sections:

? “Responding to the Call”;

? “Creating Your Campaign and Creating Your Career Marketing Documents,” and;

?”Executing Your Job Search.”

Each section is punctuated with sub-topics that educate the reader with in-depth information, and with text boxes offering relevant quips and tips. Also included are what Whitcomb dubs “Pocket Prayers,” which relate directly to the text’s and job-seeker’s objectives. For handy review each chapter concludes with “10 Quick Tips” that provide an overview of the chapter.

Whitcomb devotes the first section, “Responding to the Call,” to make the biblical case that God equips and calls people for specific purposes, and bolsters this position by citing Bible passages regarding 10 persons God called upon himself for significant tasks. She also posits, however, that God is initially more interested in one’s availability than ability. Significant to her position is what she notes are God’s four purposes for work, three of which are: a faith-growing experience, training to increase one’s capacity and influence, and the opportunity to reflect God’s image.

The second portion of the book provides workable tools to help determine career choices and craft effective job searches. Whitcomb advises how to formulate “SMART” career goals, with SMART as an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-specific.

Of particular interest in this section is Whitcomb’s counsel about creating a career brand, which for the work-a-day Christian starts with Christlikeness. Branding also includes the abilities, attributes and advantages that comprise the job searcher’s desired reputation to be used in self-marketing, and represent the unique combination of skills and competencies that draw premium salaries. Whether planned or impromptu, readers will learn how to communicate their brand effectively and succinctly on paper or in person.

The book’s final section is replete with information on job search strategies, mistakes and misconceptions to avoid, maximizing active and passive job searches and more. Whitcomb doesn’t treat the requisite resume and interview components with tip of the hat. Rather, her pen bears hard on the paper, inking every detail necessary to encourage and equip readers to make each word?whether written or verbal?carry significant weight and count for all it can.

Whitcomb doesn’t shy away from talking about money, but enables readers to cash-in on her five truths of salary negotiations that will spawn strength, confidence, integrity and optimism.

Concluding the book is an appendix listing the contact information of more than two dozen certified career coaches from across the U.S., and a helpful topical index. Before reading the want-ads, read “The Christian’s Career Journey” by Susan Britton Whitcomb.

Home-based student ministry book released

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ken Lasater, SBTC church ministries associate and the author of the newly released book study titled “Home-Based Student Ministry: Leading a Student Ministry Focused on the Family.”

Published by the SBTC, the study is based on extensive research of parents whose children have been actively involved in church life from youth through young adulthood. Lasater spent 23 years in youth and music ministry before joining the SBTC staff. The book is available at ($14.99 plus $5 shipping).

How did you get involved in tackling the research for this book?

There has been a lack of resources in Southern Baptist life for involving parents in student ministry. It’s been a need for a long time and it’s been on a lot of radars, yet we still lacked a working model for that to take place.

Also, there have been many voices out there questioning the role of the youth minister and even questioning whether or not it’s even biblical. We needed to answer, “If there’s going to be a student minister, what can he do?” And then, “what might that ministry look like?”

Several studies show that about 70-80 percent of students are not attending church after high school?at least for a few years. How much did that trend influence the writing of this resource?

It really didn’t help form this material. But what the statistics caused was a question as to whether the youth minister role is valid or not. It was because of these statistics and the decline in baptisms that caused a second look at how youth ministry was being administered and the recognition that there were ministry approaches that were not building the church, not reaching students, not hanging on to students. And so the statistics indicated there was a problem.

This material grew out of a completely different perspective. What really began this material was asking the question, “Who really has the answer to these problems? Who can guide us in the right direction?”

What about statistics that show that multiple positive influencers in a student’s life make a difference in whether or not he is a lifelong disciple?

That comes from several studies, and it’s not just students. It also applies to new church members?that they need more than just one or two connection points. They need to be immersed into a community of believers who are involved in each other’s lives in a positive way.

Who is the book written for?

The book has been mailed to churches for the pastor and the student minister. It provides how-to information for the student ministry leader. This material will show how to implement an effective student ministry that will keep the parents connected and involved. But it also puts the parents back in charge of the discipleship. The student ministry may choose to do a lot of that teaching through Sunday School, discipleship classes and other means, but it does put the strategy in the parents’ hands. It puts the tools in their hands. They are kept abreast of what the studies are going to be so they can discuss that in the home. In a lot of churches it is the pastor who makes the decision on the ministry approach, and so this resource is for the pastor as well.

What did you learn in preparing the book?

We didn’t want to ask the general culture about where we are as a church culture. All of the studies had already shown there was a decline in baptisms, that students were failing to stay connected. We didn’t want to find that same information again; we already knew that.

But what we wanted to find out was, who was doing it right? Who was turning the tide? Who has corrected this and who is bringing about the kinds of results we want everybody to have? And so the question was, what are we going to shoot for? And we wanted as the end product students who are connected to the church all through high school, through college and into young adulthood. Students who are prepared to become leaders. Students who are supportive of their church staff. We wanted to find students who want to develop other students who love the Lord and are committed to the Lord. And so we started with those criteria.

These are the kind of students we want to have. And the only place to go to ask the right questions were the parents who had produced those types of children. And so we identified these parents and asked them very pointed questions?27 questions?each with nine possible responses.

We asked them about who is responsible for the spiritual discipline of the student? Who is responsible for the character development of those students? Who is responsible for the biblical instruction, for the biblical worldview? Even questions like who is responsible for your student’s recreation experience in the context of the church setting? The survey really revealed some pretty surprising results.

Land assesses Obama for board

NEW BRAUNFELS?President Barack Obama earned praised from Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Richard Land for the example he brings to the White House as a father who stands up for his family. And yet, Obama’s selection of key cabinet leaders devalues the sanctity of human life, diminishes the importance of the traditional family and threatens religious liberty, Land told members of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board April 27.

“It says something important that Barack Obama is demonstrably committed to his family,” Land told the board members gathered for dinner prior to their meeting. As Land reviewed the course of actions taken by Obama in his first 100 days in office, he offered a forecast of what might be expected on the home front.

Regarding charitable giving, Obama’s budget plan reduces the deductibility of contributions by high income earners, with one analysis projecting a reduction of nearly $4 billion a year in charitable giving, he said.

Early indications of Obama’s perspective on the sanctity of life were revealed as he lifted restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, reversed the policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from funding international NGOs that perform or promote abortions, and contributed $50 million to the United Nations Population Fund, supporting China’s coercive population-control policy, Land said.

Land said Obama signaled elimination of conscience protections when he began the process of rescinding regulations protecting health-care workers from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in abortions or other medical procedures that would violate their religious convictions.

Reauthorization to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program lays the foundation for a possible “Trojan Horse” to introduce government takeover of healthcare, Land said. Furthermore, the economic stimulus bill opens the door for socialized medicine, he said, mandating $1 billion to “lay the initial building blocks in the foundation of a national healthcare superstructure that will ration medical care to the sick and the elderly, with government bureaucrats?not doctors?making medical decisions.”

A newly established Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research will evaluate medical treatments and drugs using a model from the British socialized medicine system. Land described comparative effectiveness as a euphemism to either grant or deny health care based on whether it is cost effective or not.

Among the nominations Land found troubling were:

?Deputy Attorney General David Ogden who “pushed repeatedly for a loosening of pornography restrictions” while representing Playboy and Penthouse and considers abortion a fundamental right, having represented Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and People for the American Way;

?Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, who represented Terri Schiavo’s husband in seeking to remove his severely brain damaged wife from life support;

?Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who vetoed regulations on abortion while serving as Kansas governor, and;

?Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnson of the Office of Legal Counsel, who directed a pro-abortion lobbying group and described abortion restrictions as tantamount to “involuntary servitude.”

Repeating a warning he issued to an earlier gathering of the Mega Metro Pastors’ Conference in Denver, Land said: “The changes hostile to traditional values we’ve seen thus far and the additional anti-family changes we can expect to come, make it all the more important for Christians to reach beyond the four walls of our churches to be salt and light for the gospel while at the same time raising our voices in support of God-honoring policies in Washington’s corridors of power.”

Urging Southern Baptists to remain steadfast, Land said, “Whether they succeed is dependent on whether they can discourage us from defending our beliefs and engaging the culture.”

He urged leaders to remain committed to allowing God’s Spirit to work to transform families, churches, communities and the culture.

A detailed account of Land’s analysis of the “First 100 Days” is available at the website for Land’s radio broadcast,

Fewer mission teams could be positive

The threat of being caught in the crossfire of drug-related violence just inside the Mexican border is enough to make summer mission teams refocus their efforts in safer climes.

And that, some say, is not a bad thing.

Violence between the drug cartels vying for control of regions throughout Mexico and between the cartels and the Mexican Army compounded with the swine flu scare was enough to make any casual visitor cancel plans to the troubled nation. But for the individual or group who believes they are called by God to go, backing out is tantamount to lacking faith.

Or not.

Pastors along the border and IMB missionaries within the country have said the way missions have been done in Mexico needs to be reworked to equip Mexican believers to carry on.

For years missions teams, predominantly Baptist, have sent buses and van loads of enthusiastic teenagers and their adult chaperones to the border for Vacation Bible School, building projects, clothes and gospel tract dissemination, medical aid, and a host of services intended to meet the perceived physical needs of the residents.


Douglas Cantu (a pseudonym), an IMB missionary, urged mission teams to not be so overwhelmed by the physical needs of the people that they lose sight of the spiritual needs.

“We’re going to help those poor people down there,” Cantu said, giving an example of what is often the mind-set of relatively wealthy Americans. American Christians need to partner with their brothers and sisters in Mexico and not patronize them. That, Cantu said, is a foundational element of mission work in Mexico and one that has been forgotten.

“We take all our money down there and we ‘bless’ the people,” said Mike Due, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Port Arthur.

Tiffany Smith, SBTC missions mobilization associate, said, “[Americans] don’t feel like we’ve done missions unless we’ve built something.”

She was quick to add that God can and does bless the efforts of those who work in God’s name for the Mexicans, but what is more profoundly needed are long-term commitments by churches in the U.S. to partner with churches in Mexico to help them be witnesses in their communities with or without a team of Americans.

Otherwise, she said, Mexico ends up with churches that cannot stand the test of time and the gunfire of drug lords.

Scottie Stice, former IMB missionary to El Salvador and an SBTC field ministry strategist, said if American churches weren’t willing to make changes on their own, the situation in Mexico is forcing the issue.

He said, “With the drug violence and now the flu, it doesn’t change what God will do but makes us change the way we do things. And that has been overdue for a while.”

He said missions to Mexico need to be redefined in the simplest of terms?”Go and make disciples.”