Month: January 2011

Students fight for the abolition of sex slavery

FORT WORTH?Seminary students in Fort Worth, Texas, are fighting for the abolition of sex slavery, calling churches and residents in the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth to take a stand during the upcoming Super Bowl.

Sex slavery binds 100,000 to 300,000 young girls and boys within the United States in the chains of forced prostitution every year. Within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex alone, more than 250 girls are bought and sold every month as slaves in the sex market.

As crowds flock to the area during the week of the Super Bowl, pimps will transport an estimated 12,000 minors to the area and force them into prostitution. In response to this surge in sex trafficking, a group of students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are calling Southern Baptists in the area to help break the chains of sex slavery by opening their eyes and ears during the week of the Super Bowl.

“Our goal is to raise public awareness, because we feel that when the public sees this, they won’t be able to close their eyes or cover their ears anymore,” said Southwestern Master of Theology student D.L. Frugé.

According to Frugé, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex competes even with Las Vegas as one of the major hotbeds of sexual slavery, especially during large events like the Super Bowl. However, he is not without hope for the young girls enslaved by sex trafficking.

“In Fort Worth, we have a huge opportunity to make an impact right now,” Frugé said. He and his wife, Katie, have joined several other Southwestern students to form a grassroots advocacy group called Lose the Chains.

During a recent chapel service at the seminary, the group challenged students to inform their churches of the plight of these enslaved girls, and to help them see what they can do to break the chains of the sex trade. In a message on their website, www.losethechains.com, the group calls church members to watch for the signs of sex slavery in their communities during the Super Bowl.

“Pimps have a lot of tactics, one of which is to rent home in your neighborhood, turning them into brothels,” says the website, designed by David Wallace, a student in the College at Southwestern. “They’re most vulnerable in our neighborhoods because hundreds of thousands of church members live in these same neighborhoods. Pimps aren’t expecting Christians to have an eye out for them.”

According to Frugé, Christians can stand against sex slavery by calling 911 if they spot signs of sex slavery in their neighborhoods.

Another member of Lose the Chains, seminary doctoral student Mindy May, joined Deena Graves, the founder of advocacy group Traffick911, during a panel discussion on the Southwestern Seminary campus, Jan. 27. May, who is slated to discuss the issue of sex trafficking in various venues, desires to develop a better understanding of how to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of girls freed from sexual slavery.

During the panel discussion, May described her research about sexual slavery in the United States. While examining research documents and governmental legislation on the issue, she said, she was shocked by the absence of church involvement in responding to this issue. Both May and Graves said that Christians must stand against sex slavery.

“We believe this is grieving the heart of God,” Graves said, “and if we know this is happening to children, and we don’t do anything in response to it, then we’re accountable for that.”

Jason Smith, another member of Lose the Chains and a Master of Divinity Student at Southwestern, said the church must face this issue, ultimately, because young girls enslaved within the sex trade-and the men who manipulate and abuse them-need the Gospel.

“There is a really big kingdom effect that can be made in this situation,” said Smith, who is a member of Lose the Chains alongside his wife, Amanda. “We really want to see these girls not only be freed from slavery, but spiritually freed and spiritually healed. We want these girls to know the love of Christ.”

To learn more about sex trafficking and the way that Christians and churches can respond, visit www.losethechains.com or www.traffick911.com.

Association seeks building sale to resolve Southwestern Seminary controversy

FORT WORTH?The Tarrant Baptist Association’s executive
board voted unanimously Jan. 24 to offer to sell a building that has
been a point of contention with Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary.

If
the seminary is unwilling to buy the building on its campus in Fort
Worth, Texas, for fair market value, the TBA executive board asked that
the matter be referred to a three-member arbitration panel as
stipulated in a 1982 affiliation agreement, according to TBA moderator
Al Meredith. The executive board also resolved to pray for seminary
leaders in the matter.

The seminary sent a letter on Dec. 10,
2010, informing the association that it had six months to vacate the
building located at 4520 James Ave. in Fort Worth. According to
Meredith, while the building is located on the seminary’s campus,
Southwestern transferred the deed to the association in 1997. Meredith
added that three or four years ago representatives of the seminary
inquired about the availability of the property, but that nothing had
been said on the matter between then and last December. A second letter
from the seminary dated Jan. 18 reaffirmed the seminary’s position, but
allowed for some leeway in when the association would have to move,
Meredith said.

“I don’t have another step if these measures
don’t resolve the issue,” Meredith, pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church
in Fort Worth, told Baptist Press after the meeting, voicing hope that
the issue can be resolved through a negotiated settlement. Otherwise,
“If the TBA wins, the Kingdom loses. If Southwestern wins, the Kingdom
loses. No one wants to see the Kingdom lose because of this.”

Representatives of Southwestern have declined comment until the matter is resolved.

Published
reports indicate that the seminary holds that the affiliation agreement
between the entities has been breached and is no longer in force.

The
seminary’s letter raised two issues: the TBA’s inclusion of churches
that are not in “friendly cooperation” with the Southern Baptist
Convention and a lack of help with finding preaching assignments and
ministry opportunities for seminary students and faculty.

TBA
member Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth no longer is affiliated
with the SBC and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) over
differences in how to deal with homosexuality among church members. The
Southern Baptist Convention stipulates that any church that affirms
homosexuality is “not in friendly cooperation.” The SBC voted in 2009
to cease relationship with the church, and in 2010 the church voted to
leave the BGCT.

“What the SBC does is not binding on state or
local institutions or the local churches,” Meredith said. “It is
different for Southwestern, since it is a denominational entity. As an
association, we’re trying to work with people who are archconservatives
and moderates and everything in between.”

As to the
association’s lack of help in placing students and faculty, Meredith
said, “The great majority of the pastors on staff in the Tarrant
Baptist Association attended Southwestern. At my church, I am the only
person on staff who did not attend Southwestern. That does not even
take into account the myriad of seminary students who volunteer in TBA
churches.”

Meredith added, “I pray for Paige Patterson and Southwestern Seminary every day, as I know many of our members do.”

Empower Evangelism Conf. to proclaim Lordship of Jesus, Feb. 28-March 2 in Frisco

For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow?of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth?and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ?Philippians 2:9-11

FRISCO?”Jesus Christ is Lord!” taken from Philippians 2:9-11, is the theme of the 2011 Empower Evangelism Conference, scheduled Feb. 28-March 2 at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco.

The annual conference will feature a wide array of speakers, including pastors Jack Graham, Kie Bowman and Johnny Hunt, best-selling author and apologist Lee Strobel, and “Total Church Life” author Darrell Robinson. Musical guests include Babbie Mason, Charles Billingsley, and Jason Crabb, as well as choirs and orchestras from Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

“The Empower Evangelism Conference is designed to inspire and motivate followers of Jesus to be more zealous about the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of our Lord,” said SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass. “You will be blessed by great music, dynamic testimonies, and great preaching that will lead us to refocus on the Lordship of our Savior.”

The Women’s Session will begin at 1:30 on Monday afternoon, Feb. 28 at the Frisco Convention Center (in the Embassy Suites Hotel across from the Dr. Pepper Arena) and will include speakers Dorothy Patterson, Angela Thomas and Pam Tebow, as well as music from Babbie Mason.

In addition to Graham, Bowman, Hunt and Strobel, other evangelism conference speakers are Texas pastors Chet Haney and Clark Bosher, Danny Forshee, New Mexico pastor Todd Cook and Ken Ellis of the North American Mission Board.

For more information on the Empower Evangelism Conference, visit sbtexas.com/evangelism or call the SBTC’s evangelism department toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).

Brothers and sisters under the skin

Southern Baptist deacon Robert Bentley has been elected governor of Alabama. While speaking (preaching actually) at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church in Birmingham, he made some comments that set off a windy outrage. During his message he said, “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior?you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother,” during a Martin Luther King Day service.

We recognize what he was saying. Maybe it’s unexpected to have a politician, especially a Southern Baptist one, give an invitation during his speech but we understand exactly what he meant. He was expressing spiritual unity with his fellow Christians without regard to race or age or any other external characteristic. He was inviting lost listeners to accept Jesus as Savior. It was a commendable message of unity and openness that was appropriate on that day and in that place.

You’d think he’d said it on the floor of the state house. Unbelievers of all stripes pulled out their canned responses to any evangelical comment and affected grief. The head of the Birmingham Islamic Society said, “We don’t want evangelical politicians.” A spokesman for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League accused the governor of treading dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment, which prohibits establishment of a state church. Former Forth Worth pastor and Southwestern Seminary professor Welton Gaddy, who now leads The Interfaith Alliance and mocks things he formerly professed, warned Gov. Bentley that his title is “governor,” not “reverend.” This for a comment well in the center of his own faith tradition, delivered in a church, during a sermon.

Well, blah, blah, blah. Let’s ignore the silliness for a minute and look at this whole brother/not-brother thing. There is a difference between our relationship with our spiritual kin and those who are our neighbors.

It is a privilege to be the neighbor of a maturing Christian. Jesus set a pretty high standard for that relationship in the story of the Good Samaritan. Paul drew a clear distinction between believers and non-believers in matters of marriage, behavior, and legal actions, but also described himself as a servant to all so that he might gain a hearing for the life-giving gospel. He expended his life in an effort to tell unbelievers the best and truest thing he knew. Paul did this for God but to the benefit of his neighbors and his brothers. Many others have followed his example in doing the most compassionate thing they know to do for those who are not yet brethren. It seems to follow that unbelievers have nothing to fear from a public official who knows God and follows Jesus.

I have a blood brother who is also a brother in Christ. Our relationship is unlike that I have with any other person. We listen to advice from one another, confident that only help and no harm is part of the agenda. We’ve rebuked one another a few times. He’s been a good example to me in many ways. I feel responsible for and to him in a way I’d not feel for strangers. It’s never occurred to me that this special relationship implies that I should treat others as lesser humans.

Tens of millions of us across the U.S. understand what those who professionally despise Mr. Bentley’s personal faith will not hear?a person submitted to one he considers the Lord of all will try to do his best at anything he’s given to do. Such a person will reflect God’s love to those around without regard to race, political affiliation, religion, or demeanor. If he doesn’t, his spiritual brethren will call him out whether the legal authorities do or not.

I thought of that brother/not-brother relationship as I passed a Euless traffic cop today. He was sitting beside the road with a radar gun. If he had pulled me over and I recognized him as a believer, I’d expect him to think of me differently than others he might meet today. I’d expect him to hold me to higher standards of courtesy, respect for the law he represents, honesty, and general behavior. I’d also expect him to write me a ticket if I was guilty of a traffic violation. He wouldn’t apply the law differently to me but he would be a brother who expects the best of me, as I would of him. If he pulls over someone he knows to be an unbeliever, I’d expect him to exalt Christ in the way he handles that contact. Not to preach to him as he writes a speeding ticket but to be an exemplary police officer to the glory of God. What sincere person should be threatened by that?
Gov. Bentley later delivered an “I meant no offense” kind of apology. I wish he hadn’t but I understand his desire to clarify. I was happy to note that he did not apologize for his beliefs, as would be the preference of some.

Jesus called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He called on us to show the miraculous power of God in the way we love our spiritual brothers and sisters. He left us with a commission to win, baptize, and teach new brothers and sisters. That call applies to governors as well as preachers, and it applies every moment of every day.

Dogwood Hills Baptist provides laundry unit for Disaster Relief teams

WOODVILLE?A fully equipped laundry unit has been outfitted by Dogwood Hills Baptist Church in Woodville for use by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief teams.

Pastor Chad Barnes credited members Bruce and Cathy Womack with providing all of the washers and dryers that fill the trailer. The Rheem Corporation supplied the main water heater.

Womack knows what it’s like to endure the effects of hurricane season, having gone 17 days without electricity during one storm. After hearing from Barnes about the opportunity for disaster relief ministry, he signed up for training last year and has since purchased an RV trailer that he and his wife will use if they are deployed.

“I guess he thought I was sitting around in my recliner too much,” Womack joked when recalling his pastor’s encouragement to be involved. He was grateful for the opportunity to provide the appliances for the new laundry unit. “We’re hoping it gets well used. Our church has blessed us so much,” he added.

SBTC DR Director Jim Richardson said willing Baptists, men and women, are always needed to fill slots for mobilization when disaster strikes. Dates for SBTC Disaster Relief training this spring include:

  • Feb. 5: Phase I Training at Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Silsbee,
  • Feb. 18-19: Advanced Chainsaw at Trinity Pine Conference Center in Trinity,
  • March 5: Phase I Training at Forest Home Baptist Church in Kilgore,
  • March 18-19: Advanced Chainsaw at Lakeview Baptist Encampment in Lonestar,
  • April 8: Phase I Training at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston during the SENT Missions Conference,
  • April 28-30: Rigging & Climbing at Camp Tejas in Giddings,
  • May 2-7: Phase 2 Training at Texas Baptist Encampment in Palacious,
  • May 14: Phase 1 Training at Lakeview Baptist Church in Belton, and
  • May 20-21: Advanced Chainsaw at Camp Tejas in Giddings.

For more information on how to volunteer, contact Richardson by e-mail at jrichardson@sbtexas.com or by phone at 940-704-9346.

Empower Evangelism Conf. speakers

CLARK BOSHER
Since 2006, Clark Bosher has served as pastor of the Fort Worth-area Willow Park Baptist Church in Aledo. For 15 years prior, Bosher traveled the country as a full-time evangelist.

During that time he preached in over 400 revivals and crusades, 1,300 public school assemblies, scores of youth rallies, over 200 camps and many special one-day events. The theme of his life is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”

He is a graduate of Arlington Baptist College. His sermons emphasize the desperate need of a Savior and end with a call to repentance.

J. KIE BOWMAN
J. Kie Bowman has served as pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church since 1997. Born in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1956, Bowman accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior at the age of 14, recommitting his life at the age of 19.

He has preached internationally in Switzerland, Ireland, Paraguay, and England, and has presented an essay on American evangelicalism at the Oxford Roundtable at the University of Oxford, England. He is the author of two devotional books published by Thomas Nelson.

Bowman holds a doctor of ministry degree in New Testament interpretation from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also earned an M.Div. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.

SAM CATHEY
An Arkansas native, Cathey was converted at the age 10, called to preach at 16, and has preached across the nation in revivals, Bible conferences, and evangelistic meetings. He is president of Morningside Ministries, and past-president of the National Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.

After serving as a pastor in Arkansas, Michigan and Oklahoma, he re-entered full-time evangelistic ministry in 1996.

While a pastor in Michigan, his church started or co-sponsored nine other congregations, consistently leading the state convention in baptisms and overall growth.

He is the author of five books and a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Immanuel Baptist Seminary.

TODD COOK
Cook is the founding pastor of Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque, N.M. He came to Albuquerque from Kansas City, Mo., 15 years ago and ministered at Hoffmantown Baptist Church in Albuquerque, where he served as student pastor, before being commissioned to start Sagebrush in 1999.

Sagebrush is one of the fastest-growing churches in American with more than 7,500 attendees each weekend across four campuses in New Mexico.

KEN ELLIS
Ellis serves as team leader for People Group/Interfaith Evangelism at the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. His responsibilities include the planning, leading, managing, and evaluating his team’s work with SBC state conventions, associations, and the local church.

Ellis is a former chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve and in federal and state prisons. His previous roles at NAMB have been black church evangelism director and on the chaplaincy staff. He has also served as president of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network.

DANNY FORSHEE
Danny Forshee is pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin and the president of the Danny Forshee Evangelistic Association. He previously served as pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Keller and the Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va., as well as professor of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Forshee holds a Ph.D. degree from Southwestern Seminary and has published articles in the areas of evangelism and church growth, co-authored the mentor handbook for the NET evangelism training, and has written two books, “Jesus and the Church,” and “Bless Your Pastor’s Heart.”

JACK GRAHAM
Graham has been the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano since 1989 as the church has grown from 8,000 members to more than 28,000 members.

He is a noted author of numerous books, including “You Can Make a Difference,” “Lessons from the Heart,” and “Courageous Parenting,” co-authored with his wife Deb. His most recent book, “Powering Up,” was released in spring 2009.

Graham was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1970, and has a master of divinity degree with honors and a doctor of ministry degree in church and proclamation from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and as president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference.

CHET HANEY
Charles (Chet) Haney has served as pastor of Parkside Baptist Church in Denison since 1996, previously serving churches in Woodville and Big Spring and youth ministries in Mesquite and Dallas.

A 1981 graduate of Baylor, where he played football, Haney holds an M.Div. and a D.Min. from Southwestern Seminary. He has served as a state conference speaker for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an advisor to the Grayson County Pro-Life Association, and a member of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations. He also has been a visiting pastor and school instructor in Central Asia for East-West Ministries.

JOHNNY HUNT
Hunt is pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since he arrived as pastor in 1986, the church has seen Sunday School attendance grow from an average of 275 to 4,700 and from 1,000 members to nearly 11,000.
A graduate of Gardner-Webb College and Southeastern Seminary, he received an honorary doctorate from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of sacred laws and letters from Covington Theological Seminary.

A chair of church growth bears his name at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hunt pastored three churches in North Carolina before coming to First Baptist Woodstock. The church has helped launch 78 other congregations since 1987.

DARRELL ROBINSON
Robinson is president of Total Church Life Ministries Inc. Through Total Church Life Ministries he assists churches, states, associations, national, and international missions in evangelism, pastoral ministries, and training and equipping leaders and other believers to reach people for Christ.
He leads churches, associations, states, and international mission ministries in the implementation of the Total Church Life evangelism strategy and People Sharing Jesus witness training process.

Robinson, a former vice president for evangelism at the North American Mission Board, preaches revivals, crusades, and evangelism rallies and he serves as Distinguished Professor of Evangelism at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as an evangelism consultant for Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

LEE STROBEL
Strobel, former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, was an atheist until a two-year investigation into the claims of Christianity led him to surrender in faith to Jesus Christ. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a master of legal studies degree from Yale Law School.

His latest books include “The Unexpected Adventure” (written with Mark Mittelberg), “The Case for the Real Jesus,” and “The Case for the Resurrection.” His first novel, “The Ambition,” is due out this spring.

A noted apologist, Strobel’s website, leestrobel.com, has numerous multimedia resources equipping Christians to defend the faith. In 2007, Southern Evangelical Seminary awarded him a doctor of divinity degree for his extensive apologetics research and writing.
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Mob boss to share story

When Fortune magazine compiled a list of the “50 Biggest Mob Bosses,” Michael Franzese came in at number 18, five behind the notorious John Gotti. His autobiography, “Blood Covenant,” tells his story of mafia involvement as part of La Cosa Nostra and ultimately, his conversion to Jesus Christ.

He has been featured in Vanity Fair, on “The Jim Rome Show,” PBS’ “All Things Considered” and in Sports Illustrated.
Franzese will share his testimony on Monday evening, Feb. 28 during the opening session of the Empower Evangelism Conference at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Arena.

Getting the gospel to the nations

If you believe the Bible and love the Lord Jesus, you want to get the gospel to the nations. You will want others to experience the grace of God too. There are several approaches to get this done. You can give so others may go, you may go or both. Southern Baptists are now making monumental decisions about getting the gospel to the nations. Money and methods are the two factors in the decision. Let’s talk money first.

The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention will be addressing several recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in Nashville Feb. 21-22. These proposals were passed overwhelmingly by the messengers in the Orlando annual meeting last June.

The Great Commission is given to the church. A church is not a New Testament church unless it is seeking to carry out this directive. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded to assist churches in carrying out the Great Commission. The SBC provides a tremendous network for churches to work together in accomplishing this goal.

One of the major emphases of the GCR Task Force was to get more resources to the most unreached and underserved. There are a number of challenges in getting this accomplished. It starts with the individual believer. A tithe is not enough if we are to reach the nations. Giving sacrificially above the tithe will enable us to get to the neediest places. A major culprit in hindering people from giving is debt.

The SBTC Foundation provides stewardship services to the churches. There is a wealth (pun intended) of debt-free courses in the Christian market. Pastors may feel reluctant about preaching on money. In our seeker-friendly environment we shy away from teaching biblical truth about finances. This can be done with the core, the leadership or those who are willing to sign up for a class. Elementary efforts will produce more revenue for the Lord’s work. I encourage you to do something this year. People need to be set free.

The second challenge needs to go to the local church. Cooperative Program percentage giving from churches virtually has dropped in half over the last 20 years. Although there has been a shift to “hands-on” missions, the actual percentage of the average church budget for outreach is small relative to other demands. Hands-on missions is good. It allows church members to experience for themselves the need for Christ around the world. While applauding hands-on going, we cannot neglect hands-on giving through the Cooperative Program. It is not either/or but both/and.

Many churches are in bondage financially because of building notes and other obligations. Expanding church staff might never be called a “bureaucracy,” but sizable dollar commitments must be made to properly care for them. For whatever reason, it seems to take more staff than in previous generations to service a church. Perhaps there is less lay involvement and more of a paid professional concept by laity.

Prioritization of money for missions begins at the local church level. While 10 percent for the Cooperative Program for the majority of churches seems laughable in today’s denominational climate, the CP remains a wise investment. Information about the wide-reaching benefits of the CP rarely gets to churches’ members. Usually pastors are the ones who encourage or discourage participation in the Cooperative Program. Members need to know what God is doing through cooperative giving. Being a part of touching lives together through the CP will stir their hearts.

The third challenge is to state conventions and Old South state conventions in particular. They are being asked to send more to the under-reached in our nation and beyond. The convention model that worked well for almost 100 years has to change for this to happen. Institutions are worthy of our support when they are doctrinally accountable. State conventions can be contributors but cannot be sustainers. Once, schools and human-care ministries depended heavily on state convention support. In most cases the percentage of budget coming from state conventions for the institutions is minimal. Some state executives are attempting to push more resources out of the Old South but it is difficult. Each institution has a loyalty base. Another difficulty is Baptist inertia. “We ain’t done it that way before” is the mantra that hinders innovation.

SBC President Bryant Wright has called for a radical reprioritization of the Cooperative Program. My understanding of his call for CP reprioritization centers on the Old South state conventions. Yet the challenge goes to the national CP budget allocation too.

How will this reprioritization look? Moving more dollars to the International Mission effort seems to be the desire of many Southern Baptists. This is a worthy cause. Conversely, the pie can only be sliced so many ways. Who will receive a reduced amount? Currently, the Executive Committee is being asked to shift 1 percent to IMB.

Will the seminaries that train our missionaries and church leaders be asked to do their work with fewer dollars? Can we really afford to take the small amount of money from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission when they speak for traditional marriage, the life of the unborn and our constitutional freedoms? Will the North American Mission Board reorganization allow some shifting of funds to IMB?

What is the answer to make more funds available? Simple! Church members give more, churches participate at a higher percentage through the Cooperative Program, state conventions send on more to the SBC. By making the pie bigger for everyone we can accomplish what we want to do without major changes in funding our SBC entities. Getting the gospel to the nations can be done without destroying our efficient and biblical network.

Since we have solved the money issue (tongue in cheek, smiley face), let’s move on to the method of “getting the gospel to the nations.” This rallying cry may mean something entirely different from what most Southern Baptists have in mind.

Let me mention some things I think it doesn’t mean. I don’t think getting the gospel to the nations means we are to abandon our efforts to reach our nation. I don’t think getting the gospel to the nations means that ministers are not to be adequately trained theologically. I don’t think it means we mute our voice in the public square or end our ministries to those stricken by disasters.

I think “getting the gospel to the nations” means more than simply presenting the gospel message to an unreached people group. There is a difference between a gospel presentation and carrying out the Great Commission. When I talk about “getting the gospel to the nations,” I am talking about the Great Commission. Jesus calls upon the church to make disciples, which includes gospel proclamation, baptism and teaching the converts to observe the scriptures.

David Sills in his book “Reaching and Teaching” points out there has to be a balance between reaching and teaching. Making a disciple is more than getting a person to accept Jesus. Measuring discipleship among a formerly unreached people group is difficult to say the least. The idea has been proposed that once a people group has 2 percent reached with the gospel, it is time to consider moving on to the next unreached people group. I think that declaring a people group reached is more complex than a theoretical sociological benchmark.

The methodology of getting the gospel to the nations is contested. Some believe we should use the bulk of our resources in evangelizing micro-people groups who have never heard the gospel. While presenting the only Savior, Jesus Christ, to these precious souls is a mandate, how we proceed is a matter of differing missiology. Eschatology (study of last things) should not be a determiner of Southern Baptist missiology.

Apartment fire stokes opportunity for Baptist couple

Matthew and Lindsey Wamsley stood outside on a cold and rainy January day, watching helplessly as firemen fought to contain an electrical fire that ravaged the apartment complex where they lived.

“Lucky for us, we had renters’ insurance,” Lindsey said, noting the couple lost none of their possessions, but had to live in a hotel for three months. “Time seemed to stand still when we were living in the hotel because we had no idea when we would be able to move back home,” she recalled.

Just after the fire, the couple found themselves “staring in disbelief, outside, chatting with neighbors instead of actually packing our bags and preparing to evacuate,” Lindsey said. “Personally, I think this reflects the way God designed us to naturally reach out to others and want to lean on each other for comfort and support.”

The Wamsleys had been married only two months when the fire struck. Lindsey credits the blaze as another confirmation of the calling she and Matthew have to minister to their neighbors and for developing a sense of community. This led the couple in May 2009 to join an organization called Apartment Life and become a CARES Team couple.

Founded in 2000, Apartment Life is “a faith-based nonprofit organization passionate about helping apartment owners create authentic community to attract and retain residents,” the group’s website states. “While physical features and services are important, it is relationships and community that really anchor residents for the long-term.”

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has recently begun working with Apartment Life and the CARES Teams. Millions in Texas live in multi-housing complexes.

Apartment Life now serves hundreds of apartment communities across the United States with its CARES program. One reason for its rapid success is the ministry’s ability to attract and retain residents?outcomes apartment owners desire. This has made Apartment Life an industry leader in resident retention programs.

Another reason for CARES’ success is that it places people like the Wamsleys in apartment complexes, where they live rent free while employing relational strategies through activities and other means to help residents develop community.

THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY
According to the National Apartment Association and the National Multi-Housing Council, the number one amenity residents want is a sense of community.

For example, Matt told of one neighboring couple who had a baby shortly after the Wamsleys began the CARES program where they live. The couples became friends, have double-dated, cooked and shared meals, and even given care during sickness.

“The two of them and their child now come every Sunday to our church, and to almost every CARES event,” Matt said.

Matt is youth pastor of Fellowship of the Parks’ Grapevine campus. Lindsey is also well qualified for family ministry with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Texas while pursuing a master of arts in counseling at Dallas Baptist University. When her studies and certification are complete, she will be a licensed professional counselor certified in marriage and family therapy.

Highlighting the ease with which women relate through conversation, not all residents are so easily engaged, Lindsey said.

“I think the single male demographic is the most difficult population segment for us to reach,” Matt added. “Just getting most of them to come to an event can be a challenging prospect.”

Matt overcomes this obstacle by offering events geared toward men, like watching football games, or playing poker (sans money), or having a barbeque or chili cook-off.

“We make sure they know that their family and friends are welcome too,” Matt said. “I don’t treat them any differently than I would my best friend. And occasionally, I can relate our conversations to something I heard in church or something faith based.”

Reflecting on the apartment fire’s aftermath, Lindsey said, “When Matt and I spoke to others, we realized that this is where the need is?through the tragedies and events of everyday life. Everyone has a story or a hurt they want to share. It’s just a matter of when and where.”

For more information on the CARES program, e-mail Chad Vandiver in the SBTC office (cvandiver@sbtexas.com) or visit the CARES website, caresteam.org.

Richard Land keynote during CP Luncheon

Houston native Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988, will be the keynote speaker during the annual SBTC Cooperative Program Luncheon on March 1 at the Frisco Convention Center.

Musical guest will be Mary Jane Schwarz. Tickets are $10 and are available online at sbtexas.com/evangelism.
After growing up in Houston, Land earned an undergraduate degree with honors from Princeton University as well as New Orleans Seminary and Oxford (doctor of philosophy).

In his role leading Southern Baptists’ social concerns agency, Land has represented Southern Baptists and other evangelicals in the halls of Congress, before U.S. presidents, and in the media. He has served multiple terms under presidential appointment as a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

His latest book is “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!” published by Thomas Nelson.

The Cooperative Program Luncheon also recognizes churches that faithfully support the CP, Southern Baptists’ shared funding mechanism for worldwide gospel missions and ministry.