Month: June 2010

Texas pastors assess GCRTF final report

The TEXAN invited the opinions of four Texas pastors who were among the 6,594 people who committed to pray for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. The men were asked to analyze the seven components of the final task force report to be offered June 15 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando. Their comments follow:


BRAD JURKOVICH, pastor, Victory Life Baptist Church, Lubbock

>VOTE: I pray that the efforts of the GCRTF will be received, prayerfully considered and courageously implemented. We must do whatever it takes for advancing the hope of Jesus in America and the world.

>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I appreciate the recommendation for our convention to adopt a biblically clear and compelling mission statement. It speaks to the passion and priority of the Lord Jesus and the clear testimony of the early church. The more we hear this mission and the more our churches and convention filter every priority and budget item through this mission, then I believe we will see greater impact and we will see more pastors and churches inspired to give and go for God.

>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The recommended eight core values are strong and valuable for the greater impact of our convention. We all need to know what is expected of each other going forward. These core values are being implemented in our church in various ways already, but it is nice to see them enumerated on a convention level.

>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): I don’t believe this new designated option will impact CP giving negatively. Already, my church staff and leadership team have been evaluating our Great Commission strategy. What I see happening is that when our dialogue in our local church is seen through the lens of our Great Commission strategy, giving towards CP and other avenues increases across the board.

>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I believe this recommendation will yield greater impact in the coming years. Our church has grown from a handful of families to hundreds of families. We have to evaluate all the time how our individual ministries are being implemented. If we need to reinvent, realign, or reassess leadership and resources then we do it. Why? Because the passion and commitment to accomplishing the Great Commission needs to drive everything we do. NAMB is a dynamic ministry front. But America is changing and how we partner, how we plant churches and how we penetrate America’s lostness needs to be constantly evaluated.

>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): This recommendation is valid in that it sees how America has changed. The world is different. Why not use the expertise and missional punch of the IMB in a greater way. I think this recommendation will wake up many local churches to the reality that America needs serious attention.

>COMPONENT 6 (CP): The state convention relationship is very valuable and makes the most marked impact on my local church. I know the staff. I hear from that leadership the most. And if they continually encourage and communicate the missional vision of our convention and build relationships with our local church then there will be tremendous benefits. I am grateful for the national convention’s efforts to promote CP and the greater vision, but my relationship with the state convention will be more beneficial in the long run.

>COMPONENT 7 (EC Funding): Does this recommendation go far enough? Well, do we all want to reach every person possible? Absolutely. Every local church and every ministry has to balance where the majority of money is going. One percent is a strong statement in that it is breaking a barrier. I think because of our size as a denomination it doesn’t seem like much, but it is, and it sets in motion the track of expansion in that area.

>SUMMARY VIEW: The implementation of these recommendations will produce change. But if we all will humble ourselves and ask God to guide our steps, I believe the living God will honor these efforts even if these recommendations are the start of further work down the road. Until Jesus comes, we will always need to be willing to change and do whatever it takes to penetrate our world with the hope of Jesus.


NATHAN LORICK, pastor, First Baptist Church, Malakoff

>VOTE: My hope is that the GCRTF report will be embraced and passed overwhelmingly. As a young pastor who care deeply for the SBC, I believe it is imperative for us to continue to press forward with changes and improvements to this great denomination. If we continue to do what we are now doing, we will continue to get the results we are now getting. We desperately need to wake up and embrace necessary changes for the furtherance of the kingdom and the future of the SBC.

>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I believe that a new and fresh mission statement is needed and I believe this is a great statement of the renewed direction of the convention. This is not the same convention as 30, 20, or even 10 years ago.

>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): It seems that there are so many different faces of people in the SBC. There are the mega-church pastors, small-town pastors, bi-vocational pastors, evangelists, and lay people. There is not really anything that helps us to rally around the values that make our convention such a great convention. I believe these eight concise, yet clear values will help guide us to a renewed sense of purpose and devotion to win the world to Christ.

>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): It is my hope that Great Commission giving will spark a fire in people and churches to give sacrificially to reach the world for Christ. If we ever lose sight of the benefits of the CP, then we have lost sight of the greatest mission funding effort ever known to mankind. We must keep giving to and supporting the work of the CP. I believe that the Great Commission giving will spur people on to a fresh view of the CP.

>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I believe this recommendation lays the groundwork for the church planters in my generation to be fully equipped to make a dent in the lostness of our nation. I fully support unleashing NAMB to become focused on planting healthy churches in the most needed areas. As a board member of my state convention, I wholeheartedly support phasing out cooperative agreements to give NAMB the freedom to be reinvented and revitalized. The ultimate goal is not money, but reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ. We should do whatever it takes to get ourselves in position to make the message most available.

>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): This will allow people and churches to focus on a people group here in the U.S. and not have to travel abroad to reach a people group.

>COMPONENT 6 (CP): While the promotion of the CP ultimately falls upon the pastor, I do believe that state conventions are better equipped to assist churches in education and promotion of the CP than any other agency.

>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): I believe where we spend the majority of our money is where our heart and interests lie. Therefore, I believe that increasing the percentage to the IMB is great. I personally would like to have seen it increased more so that we could send more men and women across the world with the gospel.

>SUMMARY VIEW: I believe the GCRTF did a wonderful job of assessing the needs of the SBC. I believe there are more aspects of the SBC that could be improved or reinvented. However, for the short amount of time that they had to work together, I believe the task force did a great job.

PATRICK PAYTON, pastor, Stonegate Fellowship, Midland
>VOTE: I sincerely hope this final report is adopted as a bare minimum starting point of monumental change and adjustment within the SBC and its churches. This report does not even begin to challenge the SBC as an organization to enough radical change….I hope we are headed in a direction where we will push even harder for greater and more effective goals.

>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I am in favor of trying to gather together a unifying statement for all to rally around. My concern in this matter is that we have become so caught up in mission/vision statements and forgotten that a mission/vision statement is nothing more than a lofty set of words that will mean nothing if lofty and courageous actions are not taken [as well].

>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The statement that we need a set of unifying core values seems very odd to me this late in the game as a convention. When I read over the proposed core values they seem rather obvious. It would seem to me that if we need to be reminded of these eight core values, then our problems are much deeper and damaging than we might imagine.

>COMPONENT 3 (Great Commission Giving): Personally, I have no idea what this element will accomplish or not accomplish. It is my opinion that the Cooperative Program (the SBC’s shared funding method) is neither the problem nor the issue for Southern Baptists. For us, as a local church, the matter pure and simple is effectiveness; and for us, the institution of the SBC is in desperate need of a total overhaul. Focusing on the CP is the wrong place to focus.

>COMPONENT 4 & 5 (NAMB & IMB): I believe the recommendations for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) fall woefully short. I see no justifiable reason why we should not, as Southern Baptists, reorganize our missions agencies into one centralized Global Missions Agency. I personally believe that any “tweaking” of NAMB and IMB responsibilities is little more than shifting the furniture when in actuality walls need to be torn down and some remodeling done. We continue to hear and read from current Executive Committee leaders and longtime denominational employees that we have the best system and we must not do anything that might move our churches back to a societal method of missions. So comical in the warnings related to societal missions is that we are already back to a societal methodology. Many churches are moving towards mission agencies and groups that are tuned in to the local church; they do not want to only support missions through agencies, they want to be on the field and in partnership on the field.

>COMPONENT 6 (CP Promotion): The promotion and funding of the CP boils down to addressing a symptom and not a root issue. In a day and time when “Doing missions” is so much more direct and opportunistic that it once was, the SBC still operates much like a GM or IBM rather that an Apple. Every size church can find an effective way to get engaged in open and closed countries without the SBC; finances are not the issue.

>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): Money always flows to that which is perceived to hold the greatest value and return; the funding of SBC work and CP is not a percentage issue or a challenge issue, it is a vision and effectiveness issue. As long as a new generation of church leaders and planters of the 21st century perceives the work of the SBC to be “non-effective,” “behind the curve,” or woefully naïve” about the changes in culture and methodology, the money needed for ministry in and among SBC entities will continue to dry up and go elsewhere. It is not a matter of churches giving or doing less; it is a matter of churches giving and doing more in more effective and diverse ways outside of the SBC.

>SUMMARY VIEW: I believe the task force went for a field goal when they should have gone for the touchdown. I had sincerely hoped to see a greater call for change and reorganization on all levels—from the missions agencies becoming one new agency to a more church-based methodology and focus in the seminaries that pushes towards regional availability and shorter preparation time. My hope is that this report is a the very least a door to major change.

JARRETT STEPHENS, Teaching Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist, Plano
>VOTE: My prayer is that we will overwhelmingly approve the recommendations and signal to the world that we are a cooperative body of believers with a lase-focus to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that we refuse to let anything, even our own preferences and systems, stand in the way of accomplishing our mission.

>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I do think that the SBC needs a new, unified mission statement—having a stated goal of what an organization is attempting to establish is both critically important and wise. It keeps before us a “big picture” of where we intend to go, allows us to monitor progress, and hopefully keeps us from getting off mission and doing something of lesser value. Also the SBC currently has no written mission statement that I am aware of and this is essentially “the Great Commission” reworded—certainly we can rally around this.

>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message gave us the parameters, the non-negotiables, that we hold to doctrinally. It serves as the fence, if you will, that we are to all play ball in. I see Component 2 as the actual rules of the game. They reinforce the idea that we are all on the same team. In a convention where our churches and seminaries all “play different positions,” keeping these core values before us reminds us that the team is most important.

>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): The CP is already being impacted negatively. Will designating “Great Commission giving” add to its two-decade decline? I don’t think anyone can fully know that answer. If we plant more strategic churches in North America, I would hop the CP would increase simply because more churches are giving towards it. If the CP does continue to decline, it won’t be because fo Component 3. More than three-quarters of the component is directed toward an affirmation and plea to CP giving.

>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I thought one of the strongest aspects of the report was the task force call for part of the “reinvention” of NAMB to be about a focus on leadership development, contextual evangelism, and church planting. We must do anything and everything as a convention to maximize our resources in order to have the greatest impact in reaching the lost within North America. Phasing out cooperative agreements will exhibit within the convention our cooperation in fulfilling our missional vision. Dissolving these agreements will allow more resources to go directly to unreached people groups in our most unreached places within our own country.

>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): Practically, this will only help the mission ventures of our church because it will serve to complement them. We already have church plants that we work with in many of the metropolitan cities that would be targeted for these unreached people groups. Removing the geographic limitations would allow us to broaden our scope of work in those partner cities with an organization that is already established and one that we trust.

>COMPONENT 6 (CP): This component was warranted because the state conventions are the ones on the ground working with the associations and individual churches. I firmly believe that CP giving will increase when championed, supported and promoted within a context of relational trust. It makes sense that those who work with these churches on a regular basis take the lead in the education and promotion of it.

>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): Personally, I would have like to see even more taken from the facilitating ministries budget. We have people waiting to be assigned to the mission field right now and it’s not because we don’t have the funds to send them; it is because the funds are going elsewhere. Giving over half of our CP monies directly to the IMB signals that we are a denomination with a focused priority to fulfill the Great Commission. I am for cutting from the Executive Committee and any other ministry budget for that matter, to ensure “reaching the world” remains a priority in word and in action.

>SUMMARY VIEW: With an organization as large as the SBC, small change over time is significant change. I think the recommendations the GCRTF has given will help in creating significant change. Time will only tell if they went “far enough” but certainly this is a very needed start.




South Texas church spreads its FAITH south of the border

ROBSTOWN?When River Hills Baptist Church in Robstown, near Corpus Christi, offered to host a FAITH Sunday School evangelism training clinic in Monterrey, Mexico, they were wishing to help equip a church to share the gospel in its neighborhood. What resulted was the beginning of “something bigger.”

It doesn’t take long to recognize the passion Bill Simmons, pastor of River Hills Baptist Church, has for reaching the lost. Using FAITH as their primary evangelism strategy has helped make sharing the gospel a part of the culture of the church.

“The church has been doing FAITH for several years now and has 100-150 participants each semester,” Simmons said. “We try to be intentional about reaching the lost and very intentional about being evangelistic.”

Their intentionality has shown positive results?with FAITH the number of baptisms has significantly increased.

“Last year 70 were baptized, the year before that 100. I baptized three people last Sunday as a result of FAITH,” Simmons said.

The FAITH strategy, he said, is part of the follow-up in Sunday School classes as well as hospital or other ministry visits.

Church member Kenny Myers got involved in FAITH four years ago?shortly after recovering from a stroke. That experience helped him realize that sharing his faith is an crucial step to help people come to know Christ.

“I see it like this: one day I will stand before the Lord and I want him to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You shared me with people,” Myers said.


For Elizabeth Younkers, FAITH training “has given me the ability to tell and spread what the Bible says.”

Younkers’ involvement in the FAITH program at River Hills served as the start of the now thriving ministry taking place in Monterrey, Mexico. Having grown up in Mexico, she asked Simmons if the church could take FAITH to Mexico and help train a church in Monterrey.

Pastors from River Hills and New Life Baptist Church set up a meeting with a Monterrey pastor, and traveled to Mexico to discuss how they could partner together and help train the church in FAITH.

“It’s a long story, but a story in which only God could work out the details. God led, the American pastors were introduced to Bro. Rolando Guzman, a leading pastor in Monterrey, and things began to happen,” Simmons said.

Plans to have several churches in Monterrey trained in FAITH started to come together. Guzman invited the Texas pastors to a Christmas party to discuss details of the upcoming FAITH clinic. While fellowshipping together a phone call was made to Bobby Welch, the co-founder of the FAITH curriculum and the SBC’s strategist for global evangelical relations.

“Welch immediately wanted to be a part of it,” Simmons said. Welch suggested including Doug Williams, co-founder of FAITH and Mike Smith of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Funding for the clinic stretched beyond the means of the church, and fac

Eight years out, SBTC Disaster Relief having global impact

Disasters have their own schedules, striking anytime, anywhere, anyone. Recognizing the history of hurricanes along the Texas Gulf Coast as a continuing pattern, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention leadership prepared for future calamities by tapping in 2002 Gibbie McMillan as missions services associate to develop, among other assignments, a disaster response system and volunteer network.

Disaster relief for the SBTC was born.

The foundation laid by McMillan is now a full-fledged structure under the leadership of Jim Richardson, who succeeded McMillan in 2006 as the SBTC’s first-ever Disaster Relief ministry associate.

“What we tried to do when I got here,” McMillan said, “was to serve churches interested in disaster relief, and to discover the areas of greatest need. So we developed a disaster relief program that included chaplaincy and construction teams we called Baptist Builders.”

McMillan soon began organizing chainsaw crews, and their popularity and success was not long in coming as several deployed to Florida in September of 2004, responding to Hurricane Charley’s devastation.

After careful research and thoughtful dialogue, the SBTC and Texas Baptist Men, a longstanding disaster ministry, entered into a relationship in 2003 intended to bolster the capabilities of both ministries, McMillan said.


By the time Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, SBTC Disaster Relief was up and running. An army of SBTC volunteers, many of them rookie DR workers, prepared and served more than 300,000 meals in Louisiana in the week after the storm hit. Chainsaw crews were there, too, along with mud-out workers. In all, nearly 1.1 million meals were served to survivors, rescue workers, soldiers and police at shelters, food stamp lines, neighborhoods and military posts from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

During the three weeks of Hurricane Katrina-related ministry, dozens of salvations were recorded, hundreds of gospel tracts and Bibles were distributed and thousands of prayers were offered for victims by SBTC volunteers.

The experience of SBTC DR workers in Louisiana proved invaluable as training for their response to Hurricane Ike three years later. In less than a month after that storm, the SBTC-led disaster relief kitchen had served more than a half-million meals on Galveston Island.

Upon his departure in 2006, McMillan had formed an agreement that allowed SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers to operate one of the Salvation Army’s feeding units. He also garnered the SBTC’s first water purification unit; “even though it was only as big as a suitcase?it was cutting-edge, then,” he said. The water purification unit was part of the equipment McMillan had begun to acquire for SBTC DR efforts.

As part of the SBTC’s DR program, McMillan coordinated chaplaincy ministry in cooperation with the North American Mission Board.

He said the most significant part of his ministry was when he trained 32,000 people for mass-feeding so they’d be qualified to serve Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Meeting at Second Baptist, Houston, the project “took three days. We had Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists, and more. It wasn’t easy, but we got the job done,” he said.

When McMillan accepted a position with the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 2006, Richardson came on board, having previously served the Georgia Baptist Convention in disaster relief.

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Choosing a Bible no simple task

It is hard to believe that just over a century ago, there was only one popular English translation of the Bible. But walk into a Christian bookstore today, and there are dozens of versions and translations from which to choose.


Bible translations are not a modern invention. In the third century B.C., Jews translated the Scripture from the original Hebrew into the language of the people of Alexandria, a Greek-speaking city. These Greek-speaking Jews could no longer read Hebrew, so reading and understanding the Word of God became impossible.


Following the command of Christ, early Christians fulfilled the Great Commission by taking the Word of God to the nations, translating the Scripture into many languages, including Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Egyptian, Coptic, and many more. Christians understood the importance of reading and understanding the Scripture in their native language.


Under the influence of the Roman Empire, Latin emerged as the common language for Bible translation. After Jerome translated the Scriptures into Latin in 382 A.D., priests and prelates for centuries limited translation to Latin and restricted its use for the clergy, leaving most people without access to the Bible.


Into English

English translation began under the study of John Wycliffe, a professor at Oxford University. Just before his death in 1384, he published a literal translation based on Jerome’s Latin Bible, the “Vulgate.” Because of his work as a Bible translator, Wycliffe was denounced a heretic, his body was exhumed and burned, his ashes cast into a river, and his translation and many of its copies burned.


But threat of death and flame would not stop Christians from translating the Scripture into the language of the people. William Tyndale (1492-1536), who studied at Oxford and Cambridge, became a professor at Cambridge University and translated the Scripture from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Tyndale, like the German Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), desired to translate the Bible into the common language of Christians.


From Tyndale’s translation flowed the basis for English translations for over 400 years. To this day, English translations are affected by the work of Tyndale, including the King James Version and the American Standard Version and its successors (RSV, NASB, NAU, NRSV, ESV).


Translation theory

Until the middle of the 20th century Bible translations operated under the singular goal of literal word-for-word translation, rendering the words of the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) from the text of Scripture into the language of the people, insofar as the new language allowed the translation.


During the mid-20th century, a new era in Bible translation began. Under the influence of modern linguistics and cultural anthropology, Bible versions multiplied, applying new principles of language science to the process of translation.


Missionaries worked with translators to develop texts that could be used when working with unreached people groups, resulting in thousands of translations of the Scripture. Translation into tribal languages brought extra challenges, such as transforming the language of the original Hebrew and Greek into very different grammatical/syntactical systems employed by the biblical authors.


In the last half of the 20th century, Bible translators differed with each other as to the best way to render the ancient biblical text into contemporary language. Translation principles developed and conservative scholars were chosen to develop new translations into contemporary English.


Formal Equivalence

Modern versions of the Bible pursue one of two philosophies of translation, known by the technica