Month: February 2011

NAMB trustees approve sweeping changes

ALPHARETTA, Ga.?Trustees of the North American Mission Board approved sweeping changes Wednesday, Feb. 9, altering the focus, strategy, leadership and organizational structure of the Southern Baptist entity. The changes come almost five months to the day after trustees voted last Sept. 14 to approve Kevin Ezell as NAMB’s president.

The package of changes approved by trustees involves four primary areas: NAMB’s national strategy; a regional approach to how NAMB will do its work; an organizational restructuring that will align NAMB’s staff chart with its new strategy; and four new vice presidents who will give leadership to key ministry areas.
“This is a massive overhaul,” Ezell said. “We believe it’s going to be an historic overhaul.”

NAMB’s national strategy?titled Send North America?will focus on mobilizing missionaries and churches for evangelistic church planting. Once churches or potential missionaries have connected with NAMB, after an assessment, NAMB will provide any needed equipping and training before the missionary or church enters the mission field.
Evangelism and leadership development will be integrated throughout the process.

“Sending” churches that partner with NAMB will have a broad range of participation options, up to and including starting a church themselves. Smaller churches can participate in clusters with other churches. All will be encouraged to send mission teams, volunteers and other resources to directly help and partner with church planters on the mission field.

Both sending churches and new church plants will be expected to contribute to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program and to minister in a manner consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

“This entire strategy points everything we do toward assisting churches in planting healthy Southern Baptist churches,” Ezell said. “Our desire is to mobilize thousands of Southern Baptists to be engaged in church planting.”

He added, “Right now there are four percent involved, our initial goal is to see 10 percent of churches involved in evangelistic church planting.”

The Send North America strategy will take on a regional focus. NAMB trustees approved a new approach to the board’s work that will divide North America into five regions: Northeast, South, Midwest, West and Canada. Each region will have its own vice president who reports directly to Ezell and will work closely with state Baptist convention leaders in that region.

Ezell said state leaders have been an integral part of shaping the new direction for NAMB, and that he is thankful for the lengths state executives have gone to work with him.

“We relate with 42 state association executives. It’s vital we work together?not because we have to but because we want to. They have been incredible. They, too, have a heart to reach North America and they all have a heart for reaching the underserved areas,” he said.

Ezell noted that 80 percent of NAMB’s funding to states already goes to unreached regions and when money starts shifting from Southern states to unreached areas, that percentage will go even higher.

As NAMB funding to Southern states is reduced, Ezell said state leaders will be able to direct that money to specific unreached regions of their choosing. NAMB activity in the South will continue, Ezell said, noting, “We’d be very remiss if we did not continue to invest in the South and plant churches in those areas.”

Ezell indicated NAMB hopes to have new integrated strategic partnership agreements signed with each state convention by the end of March.

NAMB will prioritize its efforts in 50 population centers throughout North America. The initial 25 cities are New York, Washington/Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the Northeast; in the South, Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans; in the Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis, Cleveland and Indianapolis; in the West, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Denver; and in Canada, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Trustees also approved four candidates for vice presidents Ezell presented for a vote: Jeff Christopherson, vice president, Canada region; Steve Davis, vice president, Midwest region; Larry Wynn, vice president, evangelism; and Aaron Coe, vice president, mobilization.

Ezell said he would cover the Northeast and West regions until vice presidents can be found. Richard Harris and Carlisle Driggers will be NAMB’s ambassadors to the South region until a vice president can be named. Harris is a retired NAMB vice president who served as NAMB’s interim president in the year leading up to Ezell’s election. Driggers is the retired executive leader of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Six work groups?all focused on the overarching goal of evangelistic church planting?will exist at NAMB’s Alpharetta office: evangelism, mobilization, equipping, ministry controls, communications and missions support.

Other NAMB ministries such as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, mission education and social ministries remain but will be more specifically focused on supporting the evangelistic church planting process.

Ezell said there are “some very positive things already happening,” referring to budget reallocations that will put millions more in funding on the field for missionaries.

“To put $9 million more dollars to missions on the field in just six months, that’s much faster than the SBC directed.”

Wrapping up the trustee meeting, Tim Dowdy, chairman of NAMB’s trustees and pastor of Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., said, “One of the things I really sense from talking to you [trustees] is a lot of excitement about our new direction. It is thrilling to be on the right road headed down the right path?ready to impact America with the gospel. Our president has done a fantastic job of getting us in the right direction.”

ANNIE ARMSTRONG EASTER OFFERING: Couple labors in vast Calif. mission field

BENICIA, Calif.?Attending a beginning sign language course as part of the deaf ministry at 38th Avenue Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 1979, Howard Burkhart III liked his teacher so much he married her.

Because of Tina McMillan (Burkhart) and her attentive pupil, Howard?both students at the University of Southern Mississippi at the time — untold hundreds of the hearing and hearing-impaired from Mississippi to California have not only been taught how to communicate, but how to accept Christ as their Savior.

Today, the Burkharts’ ministry?based in Benicia, Calif., just north of San Francisco?extends far beyond the deaf community, although that remains their first love. Howard, 52, is a church planting strategist in the San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas and a missionary for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

In fact, Howard and Tina are only two of more than 5,000 missionaries in the United States, Canada and their territories supported by the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® (AAEO) for North American Missions. They are among the NAMB missionaries featured as part of the annual Week of Prayer, March 6-13, 2011. With a theme of “Start Here,” the 2011 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering’s goal is $70 million, 100 percent of which benefits missionaries like the Burkharts.

“The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering makes everything possible,” Burkhart said. “It puts missionaries on the field, provides ministry funds, provides Bibles, church planter training, support for new churches and allows for special projects that are critical. AAEO is our lifeblood, our lifeline and our future.”

After both graduating from Southern Miss and enrolling at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the Burkharts became aware of the huge need for pastors and missionaries to work with deaf people.

Howard would later become missionary to the deaf in California, where the Burkharts have lived and ministered for the last 27 years. From 1988-2000, Howard taught classes through Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for the hearing-impaired so they could learn to be pastors, teachers and other ministry leaders. It was the first opportunity for deaf people to get seminary education at the diploma level.

“Deafness is its own culture,” he said. “It has its own language, its own grammar, its own social structure. Deaf people tend to marry other deaf people.” At the same time, Burkhart says today’s technology has empowered many deaf people, enabling them to become more part of mainstream society.

Why do the hearing-impaired need special ministries aimed at them and their needs?

“You’d think they could choose from a hundred different churches but they can’t. They have to go to a church where there’s either a pastor to the deaf or where there’s a competent interpreter. And when deaf people need pastoral care, they call the interpreter, so the interpreter often becomes their pastor and advocate,” Burkhart explained.

“For hearing-impaired Americans, English is their second language. Sign language is their first language,” he said. “For deaf people from other countries, English is their third or fourth language.”

And not only does Burkhart work with hearing-impaired Anglos, he also ministers to the deaf in other people groups, such as Hispanics, Asians and Koreans. It’s not commonly known that each nationality has its own unique deaf signing language?for instance, Koreans have their own. So signing is different across different cultures and languages.

Burkhart said one of his “joys” is to return to churches he helped start years ago, and one of his favorites is New Hope Community Church in El Monte, Calif.

“Going back there and knowing that probably more than 50 deaf people there now have a relationship with Jesus?and many of them are serving and leading in the church?makes for an exciting day,” he said.

Burkhart said the deaf ministry at New Hope is very multi-ethnic, with nine or 10 countries represented. Out of 30 or so deaf people in attendance, only three or four are Anglo or Caucasian.

“Deafness trumps ethnicity, so if you ask a hearing-impaired Indonesian, they’re going to say they are deaf first and Indonesian second.”

Steve Lucero, pastor to the deaf at New Hope, is the father of a deaf son, Leo, who pulled him into deaf ministry. “When Leo was born, I asked, ‘Well, Lord, why did you give me a deaf son?’ It was a big question in my heart and mind.”

At the time of Leo’s birth, Lucero and his wife, Linda, already had a hearing son. And although Lucero was successfully climbing up the career ladder with Safeway, he would later leave the business world and go into deaf ministry?partly because of Leo and partly because of Howard Burkhart.

“We were going to Howard’s night class to learn religious signing,” Lucero recalled. “He was very patient as he taught us. He also was an encourager and gave us the confidence we needed to do deaf ministry.

“If it weren’t for Howard, we would have been stuck,” Lucero admitted. “That was 25 years ago and I still love him dearly and so do the deaf (at New Hope).”

Beyond the hearing-impaired, California?Burkhart’s mission field?is home to some 37 million people and if a country, it would be the 34th largest nation in the world. More than 200 languages are spoken in the Golden State. About 40 percent of the population speaks another language or are bilingual at home.

“In several cases, California is home to a nation’s largest ethnic population outside its home country,” he said. “In other cases, we may have more people living here from a country than who actually live back in that country.”

Burkhart strategizes and works with other church planters to start churches in the San Francisco and San Diego metro areas trying to reach a number of people groups?Indonesians, Romanians, Mongolians, Burmese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Russians and Brazilians. He also coordinates and leads 10 basic training events a year for 60 California church planting teams.

“Everybody needs Jesus. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what language you speak, where you came from or where you live. Everybody needs Jesus and it’s our job to communicate that in a language they can understand.

“We would ask Southern Baptists to pray for us because we need to identify a Japanese church planter for San Diego and several Vietnamese church planters for 10 churches that need to be planted in California. We also need partners for several new churches being planted in the San Francisco Bay area.”

Miami-born Howard and Tina?a Jackson, Miss., native who grew up in Alabama?are the parents of two children, Nathan and Victoria. Howard also asks Baptists to especially pray for Victoria, only 18, who has been seriously ill with a rare, debilitating neurological disease, leaving her mostly homebound for the last six years.

“I grew up in Miami and if you’d told me growing up that I would be a missionary in California working among the Burmese and Karen, deaf people or the other language groups I work with, I would have said, ‘never in a million years.’ But God had a work for me to do and he is completing it in me,” Burkhart said.

“It’s hard work, it takes people, money, mission teams and partners. It takes a lot of people to reach a community for Christ.”

IMB presidential candidate offers experience as missionary, pastor, denominational leader

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.–Tom Elliff of Oklahoma City is the unanimous nominee for the president of Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board, according to information released Feb. 17 by search committee chairman Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, Texas.

The full board of trustees will consider the recommendation when they come to Dallas March 15-16 for their next meeting.

Noting that Elliff emerged as the committee’s clear and unanimous choice in January, Pritchard said in an IMB statement: “Throughout the process, we talked to some great and godly men, but we just could not get a sense of God’s peace about any one of them. When Dr. Elliff’s name came before us, we had a subtle sense of God’s Spirit speaking to our hearts. That may sound mystical, but that’s really what happened. … Every one of us senses that God spoke and said, ‘This is the moment you’ve been praying for. Here is your man.'”

One year out from having served as a senior vice president at IMB, Elliff has focused on a writing and speaking ministry centered on spiritual awakening, while continuing to do field personnel orientation for missionaries.

Throughout the 16-month search, the selection of a candidate with missions experience was presumed to be a given. Not only did Elliff serve as a Southern Baptist missionary in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, he focused his last church on sending a steady stream of volunteers overseas and personally led crusades in 16 countries.

Elliff’s pastoral experience further strengthens his resume and marks a return to historical precedent. The board’s first six presidents, spanning the first century of its ministry, were pastors without overseas missionary experience, though two had been home missionaries. The next four–M. Theron Rankin, Baker James Cauthen, R. Keith Parks and Jerry Rankin–had served as international missionaries. Of these only Cauthen had pastoral experience.

Elliff served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1996 to 1998 and was an early leader in the SBC’s conservative theological resurgence. A longtime advocate for strong families, Elliff chaired the SBC’s Council on Family Life and appealed for passage of an amendment to the Baptist Faith and Message in 1998 to include a biblical definition of the family. Many of the nine books he has authored focus on themes related to marriage and family.

He also participated in associational and state convention ministries and served as president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.

If approved by the board next month, there will be no administrative learning curve for Elliff in succeeding Jerry Rankin, who retired last summer. Elliff served under Rankin as senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations from 2005 to 2009, teaching Baptist theology to missionary candidates.

In 1993 Elliff was identified by a Richmond reporter as the choice of a presidential search committee filling the vacancy after Parks resigned. Months later they recommended Rankin, who was then elected and served for 17 years.

Elliff’s pastoral experience includes two Arkansas churches in Warren and Little Rock before completing his bachelor’s degree in history at Ouachita Baptist University in 1966, and two Texas churches in Dallas and Mansfield, Texas before completing his master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1971. He also pastored Eastside Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., which quadrupled in attendance during his decade there, served two years at Applewood Baptist Church in Denver, and most recently First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla., from 1985 to 2005.

A native of Paris, Texas, Elliff was saved in the summer of 1951 during an outdoor crusade in Fordyce, Ark., and baptized the next fall at Bethany Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. A third-generation pastor, both of his brothers also serve as ministers.

He earned a doctor of ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and received two honorary doctorate degrees?the Doctor of Sacred Theology from Southwest Baptist University and the Doctor of Divinity from Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College. Southwestern Seminary gave him the distinguished alumni award in 2008.

While praying about goals for the growing Tulsa church, Elliff sensed God calling him into missions, he told Baptist Press in 1981. His wife Jeannie shared a similar conviction days later. “On the logical side it might seem that this is foolish,” he shared with BP. “But when God says do it, you do it, especially if you’ve preached that all your life.”

The Elliffs moved their family of four children to southern Africa to fulfill his assignment as a general evangelist. After two years of ministry, his service was cut short when an automobile accident involving his wife and children resulted in critical injuries to one daughter and required extensive reconstruction surgery.

In his more recent assignment at IMB, he was asked to nurture missionary families and encourage their spiritual growth in U.S. conferences and in overseas settings; teach ecclesiology and Baptist doctrine to new missionaries in training; promote missions involvement among Southern Baptist pastors and churches; train and equip overseas Baptist leaders, advise in IMB mobilization efforts and mentor the board’s administrative leadership team.

Elliff’s wife has partnered alongside him since their marriage in 1966 and has ministered as a Bible study teacher in churches where he pastored.

Remarking on God’s leadership when first called missionary service, Elliff stated, “If any man could get to the place in his life where all he wanted for his life was simply all God wanted for his life, then all his life he’d have all he wants.”

Pritchard said Elliff has lived in “many different worlds” in Southern Baptist life.

“He has heard God’s call to missions as a field missionary. He has pastored some of our best churches. He was president of our convention for two years. He worked at the vice presidential level with IMB. So he is uniquely prepared, his integrity is unquestioned, and I believe that he will be able to help connect all of our entities together. He has a great relationship with our seminary presidents and with the North American Mission Board.

“We just see so many indicators that he is God’s choice. Through the process God has spoken to him also, and we are enthusiastic. We are standing with complete and total unanimity. We are very confident that God’s hand is on Dr. Elliff at this time to lead IMB. We’re excited, and we can’t wait for March to get here to make our presentation to the full board.”

Reached for comment, Elliff asked Southern Baptists to pray for him, his wife and family—and for IMB trustees as they consider his nomination.

“Both Jeannie and I were incredibly humbled when the search committee approached us,” he said. “Obviously, we would not have moved forward to this moment had we not spent a great deal of time in prayer seeking the face of the Lord. Now we feel humbled once again that they are going to present us to the board. Along with all the members of the board, we would just encourage people to pray with us during these days.”

Elliff said his discussions with the IMB presidential search committee initially came as a surprise.

“We love missions and we’ve given our hearts to it, but this was not on our radar screen,” he said. “It has just driven us to our knees in prayer. We certainly couldn’t do this if we didn’t sense the Lord’s leadership to do it. But we recognize that God speaks not only to individuals but to groups of people. We’re confident that he will have his way as the board deals with this.”

<p class=""Mso

Testimonies show women gifted, used in local church

“I just always thought God wanted to use me,” Connie Doughty explained in reflecting on 56 years of ministry. As members of Calvary Baptist Church in Longview gathered early this year to pay tribute to the 74-year-old woman, their testimonies described her eagerness to encourage and nurture others in their faith.

As churches across Texas grow beyond being led by a single staff member, more of them are giving consideration to hiring women to serve in roles other than that of pastor.

“I never did think women didn’t have a role to serve God,” Doughty told the TEXAN. “I just thought I was supposed to prepare and obey God’s will for my life,” explained Doughty in describing what led to her church asking her to serve on staff.

She first served in a range of circumstances?leading a chaplaincy program for women while her husband was stationed in England, helping a mission church when they relocated to North Dakota, and finding opportunities to mentor students while working in the president’s office of LeTourneau University.

Within weeks of joining Calvary Baptist 37 years ago, Doughty was asked by her pastor to teach a women’s Sunday School class. She joined the staff in 2000, directing the preschool ministry.

“Then suddenly I had the title of women’s ministry leader. That way I could mentor and teach and train young women. I was in Utopia,” she said. “Children, women, mothers and daddies would come to me because I had their child and they trusted me.”

Along the way the pastor asked her to pick up responsibility for directing adult discipleship as well. Even after health challenges forced her to cut back to volunteering, she recently accepted an assignment to coordinate the church’s prayer ministry,

“As a woman I was never confined, but I did the things that women can and should do. I’ve always been free to serve,” she stated. “God called me, set me aside, and he anointed me.”

“Many women have been properly educated and equipped to add great value to the ministry of the church,” said Debbie Stuart, who serves as a women’s ministry trainer for LifeWay Christian Resources and directs women’s ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

As a confessional fellowship of churches?unusual among state conventions?that have embraced the Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches aren’t likely to call women as pastors. The BF&M clearly states that Scripture limits that assignment to men. And yet, the experience of women in SBTC churches across Texas reveals that local congregations still recognize the BF&M stance that “both men and women are gifted for service in the church.”

The challenge comes in applying the biblical principles laid out for both genders to the changing structure of the church, according to Randy Stinson, president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and dean of educational ministries at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

In an article titled “Women in Ministry: Practical Application of Biblical Teaching,” he and co-author Christopher Cowan wrote of the need to relate the unchanging truths of Scripture to contemporary ministry circumstances.

Complementarianism, affirmed by the most recent BF&M revision, is the view that men and women have been created equally in God’s image but have different, complementary roles. Egalitarianism is the view that men and women have been gifted identically so that no role is limited to one sex.

“The first-century church did not have the various ministry positions, both inside and outside the local church, that are present in our Christian communities today,” Stinson said.

Because opportunities for leadership arise organically within a changing church structure, the authors carefully distinguish between leadership positions that provide authority and spiritual direction to other believers and leadership positions that provide administrative or coordinating efforts.

“In this latter case, one need not necessarily exercise authority over individuals in order to be designated the ‘leader’ of a specific ministry,” the authors write, citing the example of a children’s leader in the local church. “This may require her to coordinate the efforts of men who serve as teachers of children. But this appears to be consistent with Scripture, provided that her position does not require her to teach or exercise authority over these men.”

Erin Griffith’s ministry has just begun as the children and student minister at Bridgeway Baptist Church in McKinney. “My position of children’s minister consists of leading, teaching, encouraging, discipling, and setting up events for the kids from ages 5-12,” said Griffith, who is pursuing a master of arts in Christian education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. “Because it is such a small church I am able to do a lot of one-on-one relationship building with the kids and some of the women in the church.”

But even in her role as children’s minister, Griffith is careful to remain inside the scriptural boundaries for women serving in the church.

“There is a young gentleman of about 19 who helps me with the kids in Sunday School. He loves the kids and loves to help, but ? I wondered, ‘Am I crossing the lines by having him in there with me and learning from me?'” Griffith said. “I consulted Scripture, prayed and asked godly counsel about it. Whenever he has any ideas for the kids, he asks me. I give my thoughts, but I defer to the pastor,” she added. As the pastor hears her thoughts and gives the final decision, she finds they avoid any problem of stepping beyond boundaries of pastoral authority.

Niki Hays serves as minister of education and youth at Monument Baptist Church in Deer Park, having completed her master of arts in Christian education from Southwestern’s Houston campus. Gender has never been an issue or limiting factor in her service, she told the TEXAN. “In fact, I think being a female youth minister has at times put parents more at ease,” she said.

“My only agenda as a female youth minister is the same as that of my male colleagues?to serve the Lord through training and discipling young people,” she added. Currently, her church is in the midst of a study to help parents recognize their responsibility to train and disciple their children.

“Often parents want me, as the youth minister, to be the person responsible for their child’s spiritual development,” Hays said. “That is not how God designed it. Parents are the spiritual leaders for their children and my job is to come alongside parents and teach them how to do it.”

Lezlie Armour serves as minister of missions at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston where she oversees all community andglobal mission efforts.

“I am responsible for getting people involved in missions, whether it be to serve locally or to go on amission trip.” She also directs all of the missions organizations, including ESL ministry to internationals, adult mission groups, Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action and Mission Friends.

While women have been at the forefront of missions lay leadership in Southern Baptist life, Armour said, “Staff leadership in missions has only had the man’s perspective in nearly all churches. Usually a woman’s discernment on some issues is very different than a man’s. I think it is wonderful when a leadership team can have both male and female views.”

As dean of the women’s programs and associate professor of women’s ministries, Terri Stovall is one of many women who serve as instructors or professors among Southern Baptists’ six seminaries. Teaching courses for women pertaining to discipleship, evangelism and women’s ministry in the local church, Stovall said the women at Southwestern understand and agree tha

SBTC passes 2,300 affiliated churches

The affiliation of three churches during the last week of January increased to more than 2,300 the number of churches joined with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Primera Iglesia Bautista of Alvin, Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas and Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin pushed the convention beyond the 2,300 mark.

The pastors of the respective churches offered the following comments.

Johnny Calvin Smith of Mount Moriah: “We are truly grateful to God for such a gracious opportunity to be a part of the SBTC family. In seeking out affiliation, we were encouraged by the doctrinally firm, focused and loving stance threaded throughout all ministries. We look forward to partnering with the SBTC to continue fulfilling our mission to exalt God, edify the body of Christ, equip the saints for service, and evangelize the lost.”

Kie Bowman of Hyde Park: “Hyde Park Baptist Church has aligned with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as a way of doing ministry with other Southern Baptist churches in Texas. We feel at home with the purposes and calling of the SBTC. We believe our giving through, and cooperation with the SBTC, reflects our commitment to the Lordship of Christ, the inerrancy of the Word of God, and our desire to evangelize lost people everywhere.

“We look forward to serving the Lord with the other churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and we are glad to be a part of the family.”

Oscar Toledo of Primera Iglesia Bautista, Alvin: “Our church considered affiliation with the SBTC because of their conservative position towards the Word of God and, furthermore, of the Christian faith. Because of our salvation experience and Christian life we believe and confess the divine inspiration of the Scriptures according to their inerrancy and infallibility. The Word of God is our point of reference in him, his salvation, his church, the human race and all the realities that are connected to the human existence. Negating the Scriptures would be negating God and his revelation.”

The SBTC began in 1998 as a confessional fellowship of approximately 120 churches committed to a minimal set of doctrinal parameters rooted in biblical inerrancy, the Cooperative Program missions funding mechanism, and an emphasis on missions and evangelism with limited bureaucracy.

Sonogram bill among emergency items for 82nd Texas Legislature

AUSTIN?Gov. Perry added to a list of emergency items in the state House a bill requiring women in Texas to undergo a sonogram prior to having an abortion, placing it on a fast-track for early consideration in the 82nd Texas Legislature.

Perry announced his intention to hasten the bill’s consideration on Jan. 22 at the annual Texas Rally for Life in Austin commemorating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationally.

Emergency status allows the House and Senate to consider the bill within the first 30 days of the session.

“Under this legislation, introduced by Sen. (Dan) Patrick (R-Houston) and supported by House members like Rep. (Geanie) Morrison (R-Victoria) and Rep. (Kelly) Hancock (R-Fort Worth), a woman seeking an abortion must be given a sonogram, ensuring she understands the full impact of her decision,” Perry told the rally, according to a news release on the governor’s website. “A decision that can scar her, physically and otherwise, for the rest of her life. When you consider the magnitude of that decision, ensuring someone understands what’s truly at stake seems a small step to take.

“Those of us here know that when someone has all the information, the right choice, the only choice, life becomes clear.”

In his speech, Perry lamented the estimated 81,000 Texas children aborted annually. “That’s a staggering statistic and it’s simply unacceptable,” he said.

Kyleen Wright, president of the Texans for Life Coalition, predicted the bill’s passage after a similar bill passed the Senate in 2009 but failed in the House.

“We will pass a comprehensive sonogram bill this session because of its strong support from the leadership and the members of both the Senate and the House. We are thankful for Gov. Perry’s emergency declaration because it helps ensure its passage before budget and redistricting issues overwhelm the legislature.”

“Abortion advocates are always urging us to trust women on this issue. Well, it’s high time we trusted them to have all the information before they make this forever decision affecting themselves and their babies,” Wright added.

Other emergency items announced by the governor are protecting private property rights and addressing eminent domain, abolishing Texas “sanctuary cities,” requiring voters to present proof of identification, and legislation to provide for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Interim IMB president answers strategy questions

Editor’s note: The Jan. 31 edition of the Southern Baptist TEXAN featured a book review of “Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience,” by Southern Seminary missions professor David Sills. The book mentioned the International Mission Board at points, but without directly addressing IMB strategy. So the TEXAN asked Clyde Meador, interim president of the International Mission Board, to answer a few questions related to how the board carries out its worldwide mission. The search for a new IMB president is ongoing.

TEXAN: Explain how the IMB employs the “2-percent reached” figure in evaluating where to distribute/redistribute its people and resources?

MEADOR: A generally accepted (by the evangelical missions community) definition of an unreached people group is a people group in which fewer than 2 percent of the population are evangelical Christians. That is one among many data that are used to determine priority in placing personnel. The reason that datum is important is that, if 2 percent of a population are evangelical Christians, there is reason to think that those believers can pick up the responsibility to continue to evangelize that people group. Of course, that is only one of many factors to be considered in prioritizing the assignment of personnel.

Currently, just over half of the people groups with whom IMB personnel are working are classified as unreached, while just under half of the people groups with whom our personnel work have more than 2 percent evangelical Christians among their population.

TEXAN: Do you foresee changes to how the 2-percent figure is used in determining reached and unreached people groups?

MEADOR: No, for we see this as an important factor to consider in determining the placement of personnel. Again, this is by no means the only factor considered.

TEXAN: What is the discipleship strategy for new converts won by IMB missionaries?

MEADOR: The strategy for discipleship varies greatly from place to place, depending upon the resources and situations peculiar to that place. In every circumstance, there is a desire and effort to see that believers are discipled. More than a million believers are being discipled currently in ongoing Bible studies related to our work, while about 57,000 are reported as being personally mentored.

Discipling and training opportunities are continually being developed, with a clear realization that a church planting movement can just as well be called a leadership training movement. The approach to discipleship that is probably being used more than any other by our personnel at this time sees 18 months as the targeted, intentional discipleship involvement time with a new believer. A basic emphasis of discipleship is teaching believers to obey?knowledge without obedience does little.

TEXAN: What benchmarks does the board use to consider an international convert equipped for carrying on the ministry?

MEADOR: We take what we understand to be the approach of the New Testament, where a person is expected to be a witness immediately after he comes to faith. As that person is discipled, and practices what he is taught, he grows in being able to minister to others.

TEXAN: How has the belief by some that Jesus cannot return until all people groups hear the gospel influenced the IMB’s strategy?

MEADOR: The emphasis on taking the gospel to every people group on earth is based upon the clear command of our Lord that all peoples are to be discipled, baptized, and taught to obey; the consistent testimony of Scripture that Abraham and those following him will be a blessing to all peoples; the clear word of Revelation that believers will come from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

The urgency to make the gospel available to every people group has much to do with the fact that a large number of people groups still do not have real access to the gospel; that at least 60 million people will die this year; that many, many millions of them will have had no opportunity to hear the gospel. How long can we leave those people groups without the gospel? How many times must others have an opportunity to hear before we give opportunity for those to hear the first time?

We do not see that what we do or don’t do controls the return of our Lord. The words of our Lord in Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:10, and Luke 24:47 are intriguing, but not the foundation of strategy.

TEXAN: If a discrepancy arose between the board’s statement on what a local church is and an instance on the field where church planters were skirting that (none is known; this is hypothetical), what is the IMB’s protocol for such a scenario?

MEADOR: The personnel involved would be corrected by their leadership, and expected to respond to that correction. Also, anytime there is any question whether a “church” is really a church, that group is not included in any statistical reporting that we do.

Challenges to applying biblical parameters for the genders play out in local church

While the Baptist Faith and Message expressed the convention’s opposition to females serving as pastor, it did little to delineate parameters for other leadership roles within the general ministries of the church.

Susie Hawkins, women’s author and speaker, was one of two women to serve on the committee to revise the confessional statement. Even while SBC messengers overwhelmingly approved the 2000 revision to the BF&M and all six SBC seminaries function in agreement with its position to limit the role of pastor to men, Hawkins noted there is an ongoing discussion about women in ministry, particularly concerning those who teach or serve on church staffs.

“Even within theologically conservative circles, there are differences of interpretation of the ‘women passages,'” said Hawkins, referring to Scripture’s more controversial passages regarding women’s roles in the church and home, such as 1 Timothy 2.

For example, Southern Baptist churches are seeing a trend in women teaching mixed Sunday School classes, particularly with the growth of home-based Bible study or small groups, according to Randy Stinson, president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He sees Sunday School and Bible studies are the biggest battleground for applying complementarianism in the local church.

“Many of our churches are allowing women to teach Sunday School classes where there are both men and women present,” Stinson told the TEXAN. “The rationale is typically that the BF&M only prohibits women from being the senior pastor. But the BF&M is not exhaustive,” he said.

Rather, Stinson said passages such as 1 Timothy 2:12 do not merely prohibit an office, but also a function.

“Regardless of office, a woman should not be asked to do the things that 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibits, even if she is a Sunday School teacher and not a pastor,” stated Stinson, dean of the church ministries school at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

At Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, pastor Michael Dean looks to Acts 13:1, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 4:11 to conclude “that there are teachers who are called and gifted by God, and who are recognized by the church as having authority in doctrine and biblical interpretation.” However, he sees the Ephesians reference as indicating that the office of the teacher is either closely associated with or entirely synonymous with the office of the pastor. “If that is the case then the position must be held by a male.”

Dean said the New Testament permits and encourages women to teach in other settings, citing Titus 2:3-4 as an example of women teaching women and 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:15 as examples of them teaching children. “Acts 18:28 states that Priscilla, in tandem with her husband Aquilla, taught Apollos ‘the way of God more adequately,'” he noted.

While he does not find in Scripture the circumstance of a woman teaching a mixed class, Dean said, “In those instances the woman must only teach under the authority of her husband and of the pastoral leadership of the church.”

He reiterated the need for men to serve in the capacities of spiritual leadership in the local church as well as in the homes. At Travis, he said women are encouraged and enlisted to teach in a variety of different settings, but in the case of a mixed gender class, “a woman may teach if she does so in tandem with and under the authority of her husband.”

Acknowledging that women’s roles in the church has historically been “a thorny issue,” Ron Holton, pastor of RockPointe Church in Flower Mound, said, “We allow women to teach as long as they are under the authority of a pastor or elder. We allow them to teach with a man. We allow them to speak on Mother’s Day in the service, to share testimonies as God leads us, to read Scripture, to sing, to teach our children and teenagers, and to be used by God under the authority of leadership.”

However, “women are not permitted to exercise authority over or disciple men,” he added.

Stressing context, Holton said, “Timothy seems to be dealing with specific issues at hand. If Paul’s command is uniformly applied throughout all time and in every situation without regard to context, should we not also apply the same standard to verses 9-10 of 1 Timothy as well as verses 11-12?” Citing 1 Corinthians 11:5, he noted, “Paul seems to indicate in some situations that women pray and prophesy openly in the context of worship.”

“The timeless application in verses 8-9 seems to be the adornment of Christlike modesty combined with good works,” Holton added. “In verses 11-12, using the same principles, the central message seems to be that women are not to exercise final authority in the congregation.”

Holton said ministerial leaders at the church attempt to interpret Scripture as faithfully as possible within that historical context, drawing out the theological meaning before applying it to their church. He believes there is room for differences of interpretation and practice when evaluating the “different representations of women’s roles and contextualized instructions regarding women in specific circumstances.”

Stinson believes many Baptist churches hold to the traditional views of gender roles out of a “sense of decorum” rather than “clear biblical conviction.”

“This means that their level of resolve over this issue may not be as strong and we very well could be more egalitarian in 10 years than we are now.”

Stinson added: “Churches are largely failing to train men to be the leaders of their homes. When this happens, wives and mothers end up having many burdens that should not be theirs. This distorts the Christ/Church picture of the marriage and consequently hinders the furthering of the gospel.”

Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs and associate professor of women’s ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, added, “The statement that ‘there are no men to step up’ is never a valid excuse to violate the teaching of Scripture. “Rather, maybe we need to emulate the examples we have in Scripture. We need our Deborahs to encourage, challenge and affirm the Baraks. We need our Priscillas to teach and redirect our Apollos. We even need our Eunice and Lois to nurture the next generation of leaders.

“In some cultures, this can prove challenging, but we must trust that what God teaches through his Word can still be applied today in whatever culture we serve.”

Some believe local churches would be better served had the BF&M study committee utilized the exact wording of Scripture instead of interpreting the positions of Scripture.

One such proponent of this view is Southwestern Seminary student Katie McCoy, who charged in a white paper delivered in a symposium on the seminary campus last year that Southern Baptists have inconsistently applied complementarian rhetoric in the local church.

“I hope that my generation will be vigilant and discerning as we test cultural trends and church practices against God’s perfect Word,” McCoy said. “I also hope that our convention will eventually change the Baptist Faith and Message’s wording on women in the church to say what the Bible does in 1 Timothy 2:12, rather than only stating that women should not be pastors. If our standard reflected what the Bible said, we would not have as much room for misinterpretation in applying it.”

Regarding this criticism, Hawkins said the study committee sought to use “contemporary conversational language” in its articles on the church and family.

“Numerous scriptural references are given to support each article,” Hawkins added. “The committee sought to clarify what Southern Baptists believe and practice in our contemporary culture. Our chairman, the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, wisely led us in staying focused on our charge, whic

Theological educators, books offer help for genders ministering together in local church

Two resources produced by theological educators present a framework for successfully navigating the potential minefield of biblically ordered gender roles in the local church.

Southern Baptist seminary professors Jaye Martin and Terri Stovall teamed up to write “Women Leading Women: The Biblical Model for the Church,” a book purposed to “paint a picture of what women’s ministry should look like based on Scripture.” And from the halls of Dallas Theological Seminary comes “Mixed Ministry: Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society,” a book compiled by DTS faculty and alum Sue Edwards and Kelley Mathews urging men and women to view each other as siblings in Christ.

Women Leading Women
Written from a clear complementarian stance, “Women Leading Women” encourages women to serve other women in the local church primarily though women’s ministries. The book offers a framework for approaching women’s ministries grounded in a woman’s identity as an equal image-bearer of God found in Genesis 1 and woman’s helping role found in Genesis 2. The authors trace this helping function through Old and New Testament examples of feminine service to God and family. Their model for women’s ministry concludes with the parameters exemplified in the life and ministry of Christ and explicit Pauline instructions for local church ministry.

And while co-authors Martin and Stovall spend much time outlining the biblical foundations and principles for “women-to-women” ministry, they also offer practical tips for both the woman’s minister serving on a church staff and her pastor.

Martin, director of women’s programs at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., authored a chapter on serving with men. Having previously served with the North American Mission Board and as a staff member at Houston’s First Baptist Church, Martin said many of the tips she includes in this chapter have proven helpful in her own ministry.

In an interview with the Southern Baptist TEXAN, Martin echoed some of the book’s more practical admonitions to women ministering alongside men.

  • Discuss things with other women before you discuss them with men. This helps to get your points to a minimum.
  • Speak in bullet points?not in paragraphs.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • If they are paying you, then they are supporting you?don’t expect to be affirmed. Realize that decisions are made at the game or during outings. They are not leaving you out intentionally.
  • In working with men, leadership is lonely. Find a network of other women to socialize with and to learn from.
  • Get to know the families of the men your work with. They need to trust you.

Martin also noted it was important for women to work within the system rather than going around it. “This is a huge problem with women. We tend to do whatever it takes (go around people) to make things happen,” she said. “Most men work within the team structure.” Martin also reminded women to “work as unto the Lord. It is the Lord you are serving.”

Mixed Ministry
Equally based on Scripture, the book “Mixed Ministry: Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society” urges men and women to view one another as brothers and sisters in Christ as a means to successful co-ministry. Written by Sue Edwards, DTS assistant professor of Christian education, and Kelley Mathews, DTS alum and women’s ministry leader, the book also includes various contributors such as Christian author Henry J. Rogers and long-time DTS professor and author Howard Hendricks.

Deliberately choosing not to enter into the debate over women’s roles in the church and home, the authors instead center their framework for mixed-gender ministry on Christological and Pauline examples of ministry found in the Gospels and the epistles.

The authors believe that the example of “brotherly love” toward ministry partners found in the New Testament safeguards against sexual temptation and the segregation of any sex from appropriate ministry roles.

“Fear of mixed-gender friendship is understandable in an over-sexed society like ours,” the authors contend. “Women are not veiled; instead they are publicly undressed?also dehumanizing. It’s no wonder Christian men and women put on blinders in an attempt to honor God with pure hearts and minds. But Jesus did not respond to women in fear. He knew that this wall of fear would exclude women from the public square of faith, and it has.”

As a stop-gap to segregating women from ministry positions, the authors plead with believers to follow the example of Christ and Paul and create a “family ethos” by viewing women as sisters in Christ.

“The Bible uses familial imagery to describe ministry relationships,” the authors write, noting Paul’s frequent descriptions of the church as adelphoi (brothers) and his designation of women co-laborers as sisters. “When Paul describes the ethos he created in the Thessalonian church, he paints a picture of a caring family.”

And while the authors concede that the family ethos model of navigating the pitfalls of gendered ministry is more difficult to maintain, several benefits can be gleaned including: physical and emotional protection, help, insight, conflict management, and unity.

This family ethos, the authors contend, begins with the leader and trickles down to co-laborers. To this end, the authors urge leaders to focus on the “one another” passages in Scripture as a means to fostering healthy sibling relationships among ministry partners:

  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:10)
  • Encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Greet one another (Romans 16:16)
  • Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13)
  • Accept one another in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7)
  • Bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Edwards and Mathews also provide chapters written for each gender in ministry, combining Scripture’s more generic prescriptions for Christian conduct and gender-specific ways to apply these admonitions. Women in ministry are called to pray for their brothers and their families, develop relationships with the families of their brothers in ministry, refrain from bashing their brothers, and encourage them with appropriate words. Likewise, men in ministry are called to drop demeaning language, value their sisters’ contributions by inviting them into the conversation, and even speak up for their sisters.

“Ethos is invisible?but it can make or break a ministry,” Edwards and Mathews write. “When we do [create a family ethos], we will also create a place where men and women love one another and serve together as brothers and sisters?a radical transformation that just might turn the world upside down for Jesus.”

Dorothy Patterson: Theologian, practitioner, wife, mother

FORT WORTH?Dorothy Patterson couldn’t appear more at home than when she stands before women teaching truths of Scripture. Whether in a classroom at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary preparing women for ministry, traveling to overseas mission fields to encourage former students or speaking to a ladies session of the upcoming Empower Evangelism Conference, she remains focused on helping women discover their God-given roles.

Her own theological training began in a room full of men, the only female in the school of theology at the time when she and her husband Paige were pursuing master of theology degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. At the time of her graduation, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing across America, encouraging women to find fulfillment beyond traditional homemaking.

While her seminary training and additional doctoral studies would serve her well in defending what was later tagged a complementarian view of gender roles, it was in the more practical laboratory of parenting preschoolers that Patterson began to apply her studies.

“My theological training seemed a waste for the task of motherhood before me,” she recounted in the book “Where’s Mom?” “In the midst of this frustrating time, I turned to the Lord.” She began reading through the Bible systematically, determined to find God’s message for her as a woman, wife and mother. That experience became the catalyst for her life and ministry. “My life, goals, and perspective were forever changed.”

When her husband served as president of Criswell Bible Institute (now Criswell College), Dorothy Patterson found new opportunities to encourage women to rediscover “the genuine freedom they enjoyed for centuries to oversee the home, rear the children, and pursue personal creativity.”

Kristi Sberna, a pastor’s wife from Houston, shared that her life was transformed while observing Patterson in relation to her family and ministry. Sberna served as Patterson’s intern while a student at Criswell College, observing, “the focus of her work and passion always seemed to be dedicated to complementing and enhancing the ministry and life of Paige Patterson, her husband, using her energy, time and talents cooperatively with him.”

“It was as if she was a direct extension of him, sharing the same vision and passion in ministry, yet never nullifying her own individuality and personality,” Sberna recalled. “Their marriage and ministry together was appointed with love, respect, excellence, cooperation, friendship and trust.” As a young woman engaged to a ministerial student at the time, Sberna said the Pattersons modeled the kind of marriage and ministry she desired.

It was during those years at Criswell that Dorothy Patterson began fashioning a curriculum of academically challenging studies with a focus on woman-to-woman ministries in keeping with the pattern of Titus 2.

Patterson was swimming against the tide of feminism that had begun to influence some Southern Baptist seminaries where women who professed a call to the pastorate were not only accommodated, but encouraged. In June of 1988 she presented a paper at the request of the Southern Baptist Convention Historical Commission when asked to respond to proponents of women’s ordination. She placed her focus on the lack of scriptural support for women holding teaching/ruling offices within the local church, making the case for ordination of women holding such offices a moot point.

“When a woman ‘feels called’ to do a work that on scriptural grounds is both beyond God’s design in creation and in violation of his written Word, that work must be judged by the church,” she argued.

The egalitarianism of the 1970s and ’80s, which rejected any distinction in gender roles, was rejected by the Conservative Resurgence in the decade that followed. In 1998 Southern Baptists embraced a new article of faith in stating that both men and women have equal worth before God, are created in God’s image with distinct, yet complementary roles.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land served with Patterson and five other members on the committee tasked with drafting that statement. Referring to her contribution as “one of the guiding lights,” he said it was a time “to speak to that issue and speak definitively.”

Patterson later shared in an interview with the journal of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: “We were told to set forth in a clear, brief and understandable way what the Bible says about the family and relationships therein. We weren’t trying to adapt our statement to today’s culture. We were simply trying to state clearly what the Bible says about the family.”

That same year she earned her doctorate in theology from the University of South Africa, writing her dissertation on “Aspects of a Biblical Theology of Womanhood.”

“Just because the world determines that women in the home are in confinement does not make it so. A far more important concern for each of us is what the Bible says about one’s respective position and duties,” she wrote in a journal article for Southeastern that outlined the proposed women’s studies track she had developed.

From Titus 2:3-5, Patterson related Paul’s admonition for “the older or spiritually mature women to teach the younger women, those fresh or new in the faith, a specific curriculum that is centered around the home and family, including such assignments as that they are to be ‘lovers of their husbands,’ ‘lovers of their children,’ and ‘homemakers.’ Such explicit language certainly leaves no room for misunderstanding what is important in a woman’s life from God’s view.”

The preparation of women for ministry was embraced early in the history of Southwestern Seminary. The school’s second president related during his inaugural address, “Our purpose is to do for women in their work what we are doing for men in theirs?give them trained workers, thus reaching the fields opening to Christian womanhood for service. Our aim is not to turn out women preachers, but to give the world trained women in all the teaching, missionary, and soul-winning activities of Christ’s coming kingdom.”

Nearly a century after L.R. Scarborough voiced that priority, Southwestern has its most committed advocate for giving women biblically grounded training with the presence of Dorothy Patterson in the school of theology.

As the eighth president, Paige Patterson drew upon his wife’s experience to develop M.Div., D.Min., and Ph.D. degrees in theology with a concentration in women’s studies. Similar to the other Southern Baptist seminaries, the school also continues to offer certificate programs for women and wives of ministers.

Lauren Johnson, a pastor’s wife in Ozona, remembers Patterson using her skills of persuasion to convince her to be fully prepared for ministry by completing the M.Div. in women’s studies. “Her love for the Word of God further encouraged my love for the Bible and showed me that more than anything, women need the truth of the Word of God taught and exemplified.

“Mrs. Patterson helped me to see that being a wife and mother is a noble calling and not one of which to be ashamed or devalued,” added Johnson, noting her gratefulness for Patterson’s example, leadership and sound guidance. “She showed me what it is to live and breathe hospitality.”

In addition to serving as editor of the “Woman’s Study Bible” published by Thomas Nelson, and co-editor of “Women’s Evangelical Commentary,” Patterson addresses the scriptural roles and responsibilities of Christian women in numerous publications, including: “Where’s Mom? The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective,” “A Woman Seeking God,” “A Handbook for Minister’s Wives,” “A Handbook for Parents in the Ministry,” “The Family: Unchanging Principles for Changing Times,