Month: September 2011

Transcript of remarks: IMB trustee meeting

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following are the remarks of SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards upon presenting an oversized check symbolizing a $1 million gift from Southern Baptists of Texas Convention surplus funds for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. The presentation occurred on Sept. 14 in Orlando, Fla.

Dr. Elliff, staff, trustees, and guests, it is my privilege to stand before you today and represent the churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. On Aug. 9 the Executive Board of the SBTC took several historic actions. Two that relate to your ministry are extremely significant.

The first statement was a unanimous and enthusiastic vote to challenge all Southern Baptist churches in Texas to embrace 1,000 of the more than 3,800 unengaged people groups. Everything possible will be done to mobilize local churches to go.

The second unanimous, enthusiastic vote was to give from reserves one million dollars to the International Mission Board through the Lottie Moon Offering for missionary deployment.

Let me explain where this money came from: The SBTC has no money. It all belongs to the Lord. The churches gave the money through the Cooperative Program. It is a unified, undesignated giving plan that provides a synergistic powerhouse of collective ministry.

The Cooperative Program provides for Vacation Bible School clinics, multi-ethnic youth camps, funded church planters and over one hundred other ministries in Texas. This network enables state conventions to assist churches in doing the work of the ministry. Out of many of these collaborative efforts come our missionaries who go to the unengaged people groups.

This one million dollars comes from First Baptist Church, Euless and First Baptist Church, Rockwall. It also comes from Skyline Baptist Church in Killeen and First Baptist Church, Buna, Texas. Some say we are in a post-denominational age. Some make snarky comments about our work together. I want to encourage you to encourage others to stay together, go together and continue to give together. Second Corinthians 8:15 says, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left and whoever gathered little had no lack.” Let’s tell the world about Jesus, together!

Ethnic churches take lead as Crossover 2011 approaches

IRVING—Ethnic churches in the Irving area, as well as Criswell College in Dallas and First Baptist Church of Euless, will host evangelistic block parties on Saturday, Nov. 12, as a part of the SBTC’s Crossover 2011 evangelistic effort preceding the state convention meeting the following week.

Volunteers from area churches and messengers attending the annual meeting are encouraged to participate.

“Block parties are still a great way to get the community to visit a church,” explained SBTC evangelism associate Jack Harris. Some block parties are held at non-church locations while others utilize the church’s parking lot, he added. “Good block parties have free food, jump houses, community involvement from representatives of the fire, police or perhaps a hospital, live music and a unique gospel presentation.”

Hispanic churches planning to participate include Primera Iglesia Bautista and Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Irving as well as Primera Bautista in Grand Prairie, and two Irving Korean congregations, Crossroad Church and Yullin Global Mission Church. First Baptist Church of Euless will be assisting in the effort with leadership from Ed Kho, minister to Asian communities.

Also, Criswell College is sponsoring a block party outreach near the campus, 4010 Gaston Ave. in Dallas.

“These events continue to be great opportunities to reach the local community,” Harris added. “While folks are enjoying themselves, you can share the gospel in a very relaxed setting.” Contact Harris at 817-614-4453 to volunteer at one of these events.

Churches interested in planning a block party for fall events may be interested in renting one of the tents available for SBTC churches to use.

The 60’ x 80’ tent can seat from 400 to 600 people and is available for a rental fee of $300. The 40’ x 60’ tent can seat approximately 250 to 375 people with a rental fee of $150.

Call Karissa Muilenburg at 1-877-953-7282 or email kmuilenburg@sbtexas.com to see if the tent is available. Once the date is confirmed and a deposit secured, the tent may be picked up two days before the event and must be returned no later than two days afterward.

Wright announces task force to study possible SBC name change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year-old convention’s name.

Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix this past June, said he believes the study will be helpful for two main reasons.

“First, the convention’s name is so regional,” he said. “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name. Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the 21st century.”

Wright announced the task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee’s Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Wright said Jimmy Draper, retired president of LifeWay Christian Resources and a former SBC president, has agreed to serve as chairman of the task force. Wright will serve as an ex officio member.

The Monday evening announcement led some Executive Committee members to express concern over the possibility of a name change and of the task force being asked to serve without convention approval. Some also said the issue could be divisive. Wright responded by saying any proposed name change must be approved by messengers.

Executive Committee member Darrell P. Orman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stuart, Fla., made a motion that convention attorneys study the issue for one year “before we take any action” on possibly changing the name. That motion failed, 39-20.

Motions to study a name change have been presented to the convention on numerous occasions — for example, 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990 and 1998. More recently, the convention was asked in its 1999 annual session in Atlanta to conduct a “straw poll” to consider a name change. The “straw poll” was defeated on a floor vote. A motion at the 2004 annual meeting in Indianapolis to authorize the SBC president to appoint a committee to study a name change was defeated on a ballot vote (44.6 percent yes; 55.4 percent no).

Wright said he believes Southern Baptists would benefit from another look at the question, noting, “I am going to ask this task force to consider four questions: 1) Is it a good idea, that is, is there value in considering a name change? 2) If so, what would be a good name to suggest? 3) What would be the potential legal ramifications of a name change? 4) What would be the potential financial implications?”

Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., emphasized the task force’s role is to advise him on the questions he has given them to consider.

“Obviously, this is not an official committee empowered by a vote of messengers to an SBC annual meeting,” Wright said. “It is a task force I am asking to advise me as president on whether this is a matter we should bring forward for convention action.”

Wright said he is hoping the task force will be able to provide an interim report that he can share with the SBC Executive Committee during its Feb. 20-21 meeting, with the possibility of a final report in time for the SBC annual meeting June 19-20, 2012, in New Orleans.

Any proposed name change, as well as other legal implications involved in a name change, would have to be approved by a majority of messengers at two consecutive SBC annual meetings, according to the convention’s constitution.

Because the task force is not an official committee of the convention, its members have agreed to pay their own expenses, Wright said.

The other members of the task force are:

— Michael Allen, senior pastor of Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago.

— Marshall Blaylock, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C.

— David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

— Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board.

— Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board.

— Ken Fentress, senior pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockwell, Md.

— Micah Fries, senior pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Mo.

— Aaron Harvie, lead pastor of Riverside Community Church in Philadelphia, Pa.

— Susie Hawkins, speaker, Bible study teacher and missions volunteer from Dallas.

— Fred Hewitt, executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.

— Cathy Horner, Bible teacher and pastor’s wife from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

— Benjamin Jo, pastor of Hana Korean Baptist Church in Las Vegas.

— R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

— Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

— Bob Sena, retired director of Hispanic resource development and equipping in the North American Mission Board’s church planting group.

— Roger Spradlin, co-pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., and chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.

— John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

— Jay Wolf, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

Wright said he is eager for Southern Baptists to participate in the discussion about a possible name change.

“I want the task force to have the benefit of the best thoughts and ideas individual Southern Baptists have about a potential new name for the convention,” Wright said. “In that regard, I am having my web team create a place where Southern Baptists can give their input about what a possible new name might be.” That website at Pray4SBC.com will go live Sept. 20. (A press statement handed out at the Executive Committee meeting had indicated the date would be Oct. 1.)

“It also is imperative that Southern Baptists participate in this process by prayer,” Wright said. “The members of the task force will need wisdom and discernment as they pursue this inquiry. We will need God’s guidance as we consider whether to move forward with a proposed name change.”
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Reported by Baptist Press staff.

Wildfires cause pastors to rework 9/11 sermons

BASTROP — Raymond Edge, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bastrop, said he had planned to preach from Psalm 46:1-7 — a refuge passage — on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. But the ferocious wildfires in Bastrop County the previous week left his church feeling far removed from 9/11 remembrances.

“That had become so far away because right now this is what we are living,” Edge told the TEXAN on the afternoon of Sept. 11.

In Bastrop County, 1,554 homes and 35,000 acres had burned as of Sept. 12, with more expected to be reported as authorities allowed displaced residents to re-enter neighborhoods. The fire was about 60 percent contained, the Texas Forest Service reported.

Statewide, 250 or 254 counties remained under burn bans as the extreme drought continues across the southern plains.

Edge said he was able to draw some of his message from the original passage but focus on his church and community. Psalm 31:1-4 became the source of the sermon title, “In you, oh Lord, I put my trust” — a passage in which the Lord is a “rock of refuge.”

Pastor Adam Espurvoa of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Bastrop spoke from his own experience and God’s provision. He quoted Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.”

Espurvoa and his congregation mostly live in rural Bastrop County on acreages surrounded by pine trees. All of the 300 pines on his lot burned as the fire circled his house.

“I can touch the [outside] wall of my house and touch the ground where the fire stopped,” Espurvoa said.

River Valley Christian Fellowship Pastor Cody Whitfill, who lost his house in the fire, said 16 families in his church of 400 people lost their homes.

“My thoughts are to emphasize that our hope is Christ,” Whitfill said prior to Sept. 11 services.

In addition to a disaster relief team from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention preparing meals for emergency responders and evacuees, as well as providing shower trailers and laundry units, members of River Valley also began feeding people the day after the fires began and ended that week serving 15,000 meals.

The affect of the Bastrop County fires on churches was still being assessed, pastors said. Five-thousand people had been displaced, though some of those have returned to their neighborhoods.

Most of the congregation of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel was sleeping in the church building because roads to their homes were blocked by police each night due to looting, Espurvoa said. The area was also without electricity.

The pastor, his wife Eva, and eight senior members of the church, left Bastrop Sept. 12 for the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in central Texas to participate in an already scheduled senior retreat. Espurvoa, 73, considered staying behind but church members encouraged him to go for some much-needed rest.

Edge said FBC Bastrop spent their usual Sunday School hour in a time of fellowship and prayer. Just having the chance to talk and cry together meant a great a deal to them, he said.

Espurvoa was able to find some humor in the somber atmosphere as he noted, “I’ve been preaching for 49 years. This is the first time I’ve preached in blue jeans and tennis shoes. All my suits are smoked up.”

The pastors said some of their families were away from home when the evacuation alert was given. Other barely escaped.

Edge told of a man from his church who was taking a Sunday afternoon nap when his son, who lived next door, came to the house to get him out. The man looked out the window to see a wall of fire heading directly toward his home. The two families had only time enough to get in their cars and drive away as flames leapt up on both sides of the road to safety.

Edge has pastored at FBC Bastrop for 15 years and drawn close to the families he has watched grow up in the church. The first week of the fires he cried for and with his congregation. Then, he added, God would renew his strength so he could continue to minister to so many who were hurting.

“More than anything else I have asked God to let me help with spiritual needs,” he said.

Redd said the members of Living Stones Church are looking after each other. The church is a 40-member plant less than a year old. Those who worked to plant the church also planted their sister church, River Valley Christian Fellowship.

Redd said it was important for the church to take care of their own membership first before trying to initiate or involve themselves in a ministry project right away. The time will come for that, he said.

At FBC Bastrop SBTC feeding, shower, and laundry units were set up and the congregation worked to clear a church-owned building for use as an evacuation shelter.

Jason Bray, a staff member of River Valley Christian Fellowship, who is coordinating the church’s meal ministry, said Texas-owned H.E.B grocery chain has donated substantially to feeding evacuees.

Espurvoa said he wants to ensure his congregation is cared for so they can help others too. The Austin Baptist Association has delivered water and groceries to the Bastrop churches. He said some of the donations collected by his church members have then been given to their own relatives and neighbors. As his members graciously share their provisions with others, Espurvoa said they will be a witness of the grace and mercy of Jesus.

The SBTC feeding unit at FBC Bastrop prepared 260 meals on Sept. 9 and 985 meals on Sept. 10. The hot meals were delivered via Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) to people in a shelter in Paige, Texas, and to some people sifting through remains of their homes.

The number of meals prepared declined significantly Sept. 11 as people began to move out of shelters. The feeding crew has not been given new orders but Edge anticipated clean-up crews beginning work soon.

A second SBTC feeding unit was deployed to First Baptist Church of Magnolia, north of Houston, where firefighters worked to get another wildfire under control. That blaze, which covered portions of Montgomery, Grimes and Waller counties, had scorched 22,000 acres and destroyed almost 100 homes. The feeding crew had served about 1,000 meals a day for firefighters and evacuees there.

Criswell College renews SBTC affiliation

DALLAS—Criswell College trustees renewed a three-year affiliation agreement with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, affirmed plans for an undergraduate program in church planting and revitalization, and approved the school’s adoption of an unengaged people group  as part of a larger Southern Baptist initiative.

Meeting Aug. 26 at the Dallas school, the trustees also voted to promote Joe Thomas from dean of students to vice president of student services, and Barry Creamer from associate professor of humanities to professor of humanities. Creamer has also served as director of online education.

SBTC AFFILIATION
The affiliation agreement with the SBTC is for the calendar years 2012-2014 and requires ratification by governing boards of both bodies. The SBTC and Criswell have been affiliated since 2001. Under the agreement, Criswell would receive 3.25 percent funding from the SBTC’s Cooperative Program budget. In 2011, the school’s SBTC CP allocation is $364,755.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the trustees his hope was for a five-year affiliation term in the future. The SBTC is “expressing a high confidence on the part of our Executive Board, and we foresee a long-lasting commitment to the college,” Richards added.

Criswell College is the only four-year college affiliate of the SBTC. Jacksonville College, an associate degree-granting school based in Jacksonville, Texas, is also affiliated. The SBTC has a fraternal ministry relationship with Houston Baptist University, which includes no budgeted funding.

CHURCH PLANTING DEGREE
The development of the church planting and revitalization bachelor’s degree program might be the first of its kind.

“The best way to evangelize North America is to plant new churches,” Criswell President Jerry Johnson told board members. He said the school would be working closely with the SBC’s North American Mission Board and the SBTC church planting team in developing the program.

Asked by one trustee to comment on the stewardship of planting new churches while existing churches with buildings flounder, Johnson said the data are clear that on average new churches far exceed existing churches in evangelistic success. Even so, the revitalization component of the new program would also help focus energy on existing churches that desire to renew their vibrancy.

The discussion brought comments from several other trustees, including McKinney pastor Jeff Nyberg, who leads a church planting ministry, and Denver, Colo., pastor Calvin Wittman, both of whom reiterated the effectiveness of biblically sound church plants.

“I think we could be a go-to place for church planting organizations,” Johnson added.

PEOPLE GROUP ENGAGEMENT
After hearing a charge via video from International Mission Board IMB President Tom Elliff, trustees approved the school’s adoption of an unengaged people group as part of the IMB’s initiative to take the gospel to 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups worldwide.

Elliff has challenged each Southern Baptist church to adopt at least one of these people groups, and the SBTC, after giving a $1 million gift through the IMB’s Lottie Moon Offering last month, challenged its churches to adopt 1,000 of the 3,800 people groups.

Pornographers and soft drinks companies have managed to engage many of these people groups with their wares. “Shouldn’t we want them more than they?” Elliff asked.
“While [Criswell College] is not a church, we have the resources,” Johnson said, in students and faculty to help get the gospel to one of these unengaged groups.

PRESIDENTIAL REPORT
In his report to the trustees, Johnson told the board the school continues to be, “above all else,” about “the saving of the lost” and “sending laborers into the harvest” in the spirit of its founding. He said fall enrollment, as of Aug. 26, was 311 students, with that number expected to rise slightly as late enrollment ensued.

Also, the certificate in the W.A. Criswell Great Doctrines of the Bible is now being offered as an online course, with public enrollment beginning in October.

Criswell plans to host an evangelistic block party on Nov. 12 in tandem with the SBTC’s Crossover evangelism effort, Johnson reported. They will have bounce houses and give away school supplies and coupons for turkeys. The area around the school is an intersection of affluent urbanites and low-income families, Johnson said.

Johnson said the school’s use of web-based technology and social media continues to grow. A Criswell College web app is now available for Android mobile devices, and Apple is in the process of approving Criswell apps for its mobile devices. A Criswell blog, forchristandculture.com, is online also.

At the trustees’ previous meeting, they took the first steps in a potential move of the campus to a location that could facilitate more growth. Johnson said the search for property is continuing.

In other business, trustees:

  • amended bylaws limiting to three the number of trustees from a given church (inaugural trustees would be exempted), and limiting the chairman to two consecutive one-year terms.
  • authorized the trustee chairman to appoint a three-person committee “to clarify all doctrinal requirements in our documents”; and
  • adopted a revised five-year strategic plan.
  • The five-year plan requires ongoing evaluation and affirmation by trustees, Johnson explained, and is helpful in Criswell’s standing with its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Among other things, the plan includes expanding curriculum offerings, developing distance education and doctor of ministry programs, and improving the school’s physical structure.

Christian schools offer parents alternative

“In today’s educational environment, there is an overwhelming need for Christian education,” says Dwayne Oxner, principal at Ridgewood Christian School in Port Arthur. He told the TEXAN that God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 6 for parents to teach their children is more than just a suggestion to teach biblical concepts.

“It’s a directive to instruct and impress God’s decrees and laws upon a nation, their children and their children’s children.”

By teaching from a Christian statement of faith, Oxner said every student and parent recognizes “we are on the same page” spiritually. “We are not automatons nor are we a Christian country club. We are simply like-minded believers who desire that our children learn and acknowledge God’s decrees and laws.”

In contrast, Christian parents of children enrolled in public schools may find themselves having to counter what was taught in the classroom.

“When our children go home talking about class, our parents do not have to reprogram them because they’ve been taught that the universe just happened,” he explained. “Our parents are able to acknowledge and reinforce the truth.”

Ridgewood was begun in 1998 by Ridgewood Church and is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools (SBACS) as well as the Texas-based National Association of University Model Schools (NAUMS).

A RESOURCE, NOT A REFUGE
“A lot of people think Christian school is an escape from the world, saying the kids are sheltered and need to face the real world,” added David Wilson, pastor of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock. When he presented the vision to launch Southcrest Christian School in 1993, the primary reason was “to keep God in everything,” he recalled.
The school notes on its website that “SCS education is not a refuge from, but rather, a resource for a rapidly changing world.” 

“I have a lot of public educators in our church, but their hands are tied as far as what they can teach from a biblical worldview. There needed to be an alternative—not a reaction, because there are people who would like to have their children taught a biblical worldview and still get a quality education.” 

Instead of trying to hide and escape the world, Wilson said the school is preparing students to face the world from a Christian perspective, preparing them to handle real life with substance. “It’s not Vacation Bible School. Our kids have done well on testing and have no trouble entering the steps above them,” he added.

From meeting in four rooms with combined grades that first year, Southcrest Christian School has leased additional space in nearby Cumberland Presbyterian Church to accommodate growth. Now at an enrollment of 280, the school will host its first graduating class in 2013 as this year’s juniors become seniors.

In addition to SBACS, the school is affiliated with the Association of Christian Schools International and is awaiting word of accreditation through the Texas Association of Baptist Schools (TABS).

National statistics show a 10-15 percent decline in enrollment in Christian schools over the past three years, according to Ed Gamble, national executive director of SBACS.
“Most Christian schools operate close to the mark. They don’t have extra cash lying around,” he said recently in an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness.

Some Southern Baptist churches are making hard decisions about whether to continue supporting a Christian school when faced with their own funding challenges. With a current enrollment of 80 students, Oxner has seen that number remain consistent at Ridgewood.

“I can tell you that many other schools are being forced to close their doors due to lack of enrollment and financial shortfalls,” Oxner said.

Both Ridgewood Church and Southcrest Baptist Church allow their schools to operate rent-free, providing a substantial savings in operational expenses. Parents participate in annual fundraisers to provide additional income for the schools.

Oxner said southeast Texas has handled the economic downturn better than most areas of the country, but added, “Most of our parents are already making significant sacrifices and many simply could not afford a tuition increase.”

“I do sometimes think, ‘If they went to public school I wouldn’t have to pay for this,’” shared Zulema Escobedo, whose three children are enrolled at Ridgewood. When she hears of a friend or family member whose child is being taunted or hates going to school, she said she’s reminded it’s a good investment, citing the academic environment and character development.

Escobedo turned to Ridgewood 10 years ago when her daughter was being harassed by another kindergarten girl wanting to express her affection. “They said there’s nothing we can do,” citing the 5-year-old’s freedom to express herself.

When her children are complimented on their behavior by people they meet in restaurants and stores, she is quick to credit Ridgewood for reinforcing the values she and her husband have taught.

SBACS reports over 600 schools operating nationwide with some relationship to Southern Baptist churches, including 178 in Texas, though some of those offer only preschool education. Since private Christian schools often affiliate with more than one organization there is overlap between the 23 Texas schools relating to NAUMS, 42 schools that make up TABS and 258 schools that are a part of ACSI.

Online course helps certify teachers, gives legal parameters of Bible class

GRAND PRAIRIE—Southern Baptist pastor J.D. Stewart remembers a time when the Bible was a commonly referenced resource in public schools.

“Now we’ve got a whole generation that has no idea what the Bible is about,” he told the TEXAN, emphasizing his concern at the lack of biblical literacy.

Stewart, who pastors Westridge Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, has served on his local school board since 2008. He said he sees new opportunities to teach today’s students about their religious heritage in a way that is legally protected and even encouraged by Texas lawmakers.

With the passage of state legislation four years ago, Texas public high schools have the option—it is not mandated—of offering an elective English or social studies course on the Bible and its impact on the history and literature of Western civilization. If no Bible course is offered, school districts must “inbed literary and historical references into existing courses,” a guidelines sheet accessible at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website shows.

What’s clear, according to TEA standards, is that religious literature is now a part of the required enrichment curriculum. Whether biblical allusions are covered when studying Shakespeare or Herman Melville on the one hand, or a Bible class is offered on the other, instruction in “religious literature” including the Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament must be given.

One of Stewart’s lifelong friends is training teachers how to lawfully and appropriately teach about the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition across the curricula and in all grade levels. Through the Grand Prairie-based Innovative Solutions for Better Education, Larry Dozier provides online instruction that fulfills continuing professional education requirements for Texas public school educators.

As a former teacher in Arlington and Grand Prairie schools, Dozier said he observed “a lack of acknowledgement in history books and classrooms of the Bible’s influence on anything in America.” In 2006 he coordinated an effort between South Grand Prairie High School and Mountain View Community College to offer the first dual-credit Bible elective in the country.

“The tenacity and perseverance I saw in Larry 40 years ago still comes through in this project,” said Stewart, referring to the online instruction for enrichment and elective courses on the Bible. “If you want to know your heritage, this is where to go,” he added.

Launched in August, the course serves as a practical guide to the influence of the Bible on American culture, featuring 350 pages of cultural and historical documentation including 60 videos, 30 interactive maps, charts, timelines and e-tours, as well as 20 musical selections.

Eric Buehrer, president and founder of Gateways to Better Education, narrates much of the instruction, building a foundation for the importance of religion and moral development. “A lot of people are surprised to find state standards expect students to learn about the Bible, the Judeo-Christian heritage and its influence on civilization,” he explained.

Through an interview with legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, teachers learn to focus on the study, appreciation, information and influence of the Bible as opposed to seeking a commitment to a particular faith. The course also addresses the religious liberties of students and the cultivation of character.

Inclusion strategies are offered to make the Bible applicable to teaching history, language arts, science, mathematics, economics and health. Another session advises how to address the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Hanukah and Passover.

Teaching students about the importance of the Bible and Judeo-Christian history is appropriate and lawful, Buehrer said, because it is culturally accurate, academically expected and legally supported, as well as being morally imperative.

In addition to helping state certified teachers earn CEU credits, the materials at BibleCultureIt.com are available to private and homeschool teachers looking for resources about the influence of the Bible on American culture.

At least two textbooks are available for public schools offering a Bible course. “The Bible in History and Literature,” published by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and “The Bible and Its Influence,” published by the Bible Literacy Project.

Both books carry endorsements from conservative evangelicals, with “The Bible in History and Literature” focused more on how the Bible influenced early America, and “The Bible and Its Influence” offering a summary of what the Bible claims about itself from Genesis to Revelation and interspersed with relevant cultural and historical references.
(A review of “The Bible and Its Influence” at BibleCultureIt.com by Bible prophecy teacher Chuck Missler accuses it of having “liberal tendencies.” It gained endorsements from conservatives such as Charles Colson, Vonette Bright and Joseph Stowell, and was co-authored by an evangelical Christian, Chuck Stetson, but it also has been endorsed by some liberal groups.)

More information on “The Bible in History and Literature” is accessible at bibleinschools.net. Information on “The Bible and Its Influence” is available at bibleliteracy.org.

2011 NIV removed from Bible Drill options for gender-neutral translation philosophy

GRAPEVINE—Bible drill and speakers’ tournament participants will rely on either the King James Version or Holman Christian Standard Bible when they compete next spring in regional and statewide competition sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The decision to drop the New International Version as one of the options resulted from concern that the 2011 NIV translation features extensive gender-neutral language left over from the controversial TNIV, published in 2005.

This shift in translation principles sets a potentially dangerous precedent in biblical interpretation, said SBTC church ministries associate Kenneth Priest, who announced the decision in a letter to pastors. After studying press releases from the NIV’s Committee on Biblical Translation and consulting with Southern Baptist scholars and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a recommendation was made against using the new NIV.

The 2011 NIV is an updated translation to both the 1984 edition of the NIV and the later TNIV, which flopped commercially. Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix last June approved a resolution offered from the floor that discouraged use of the new NIV due to gender-neutral translation methodology.

The resolution criticized the alteration of hundred of verses, “erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language,” adding that the 2011 NIV “has gone beyond acceptable translation standards.”

Since Biblica, which holds the copyright for the NIV, will no longer produce copies of the popular 1984 edition, orders of new Bibles used in drills would rely on the updated version. Priest said he and other state convention leaders would explore whether to expand to a third option other than the NIV in 2013.

The Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement supports complementarianism—the view that the Bible teaches distinct roles in the home and church for male and female, both bearing God’s image and equal in nature and worth.

“Feminists who claim that women can be pastors and elders will find much to their liking in the 2011 NIV because it tilts the scales in favor of their view at several key verses,” observed Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College and a former Criswell College professor.

The new NIV also changes “father” to “parent” even though the Hebrew text clearly refers to a father. In other instances, changes diminish the role of the father in Israelite society, Burk argued. “These new NIV verses are not translated as accurately as possible, but they are consistent with the new NIV’s practice of removing male-oriented details of meaning from the text of the Bible.”

A desire to avoid the words “man” and “son” prompts changing Psalm 8:4 from “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” to read, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Noting use of the same phrase in Hebrews 2:8, Burk wrote that “the connection to the New Testament and to Christ is obscured with the new NIV, as it removes male components of meaning from verse after verse.” 

Changes to “he” and “him” to “they” and “them” account for the largest category of changes, but causes a difference in meaning. Burk said, “Changing singulars to plurals removes the emphasis in a verse on individual, personal relationship with God and specific individual responsibility for one’s choices and actions.”

While he commends the translation team for changing 933 places where gender-neutral translations were used in the TNIV, Burk said the vast majority of problematic gender renderings from the TNIV are retained in the updated NIV. According to a study by CBMW, 2,766 gender language revisions remain from TNIV to NIV 2011. The complete analysis may be viewed at cbmw.org.

Southern Baptists serving on CBMW include Danny Akin and Daniel Heimbach from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Mary Kassian, R. Albert Mohler and Bruce Ware from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Dorothy Patterson from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The SBTC’s decision is in line with the findings of the CBMW, Priest said.

“The strongest consideration in weighing the 2011 NIV should be its faithfulness to translate the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic biblical manuscripts into readable modern language without regarding social or doctrinal trends.”

Louisiana Baptist Convention and Georgia Baptist Convention leaders indicated they are also removing the NIV as a translation used in Bible Drill and Speakers’ Tournament.

Kids Beach Clubs taking gospel to elementary campuses after school

EULESS—Land-locked Euless is about as far removed from the beach as a ground-soaking thunderstorm was from just about any part of Texas this summer. But despite the apparent disconnect, the Kids Beach Club, founded in the north Texas city, gives elementary school students the chance to encounter God’s Word on their school campuses.

Kids Beach Club founder Jack Terrell said the program was created to “get outside the walls of the church” and reach the children of his community for Christ. Terrell, who was on staff at First Baptist Church of Euless at the time, began working in 2003 with the Good News Clubs, a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship. The program connects churches to elementary schools where they host weekly after-school meetings with students on their campuses. Church volunteers use CEF materials that include games, Bible stories, and music.

Terrell called their club “Kids Beach Club.” The name was a spin-off of a popular children’s ministry of FBC Euless called “Treasure Island.” Hundreds of grade-school students met each Sunday “on the island” and the hope, Terrell said, was to draw children from the “beach” at the elementary school to the “treasure” of salvation, and fellowship in a church home for them and their families.

After working with CEF, Terrell wanted to tweak a few elements of the ministry, especially the organization’s prohibition of inviting students to church—a policy Terrell said has since changed. Terrell also wanted to focus the ministry solely to children in third through sixth grade in order to more effectively direct the curriculum and discipline.

The Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District is one of the few Texas school districts that incorporates sixth grade classes into the grade-school campus. Most districts include sixth grade in the intermediate schools.

So in 2006 Terrell, with support from his church, established the Kids Beach Club. The format of the program is similar to the Good News Club but is a high energy introduction into the gospel, he said.

“It’s VBS on steroids,” said Pastor G.J. Walton of North Euless Baptist Church, whose church sponsors a club at a nearby elementary school.

After being in class all day, Terrell said the kids are ready to work off some energy. All of the fast-paced activities are Bible based and designed to draw the students back to Scripture and the treasures found in them.

Five years after establishing the ministry, clubs have opened across Texas and in Georgia and Florida (The Florida club is actually near the beach in Jensen Beach, Fla.).

Linda Colston, part-time pre-school children’s minister at Shady Oaks Baptist Church in Hurst, said the Kids Beach Club provides a tremendous opportunity for churches to incorporate home missions into their overall evangelistic endeavors. Shady Oaks Baptist Church began hosting a Kids Beach Club when the ministry was in its fledgling stage, adding a second school to its outreach two years later. Beginning Sept. 22 the volunteers of Shady Oaks will be on the campuses of Shady Oaks Elementary and Harrison Lane Elementary.

Colston said if it were not for Kids Beach Club, many of the school children would continue to go through their young lives without knowing anything about God because their families do not attend church.

“What I’m seeing there is a good many kids who are not involved in church anywhere. We are spreading the gospel to kids who will not hear it any other way,” said the 20-year children’s ministry veteran.

Many children in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools need love and a sense of stability, Colston added. Kids in their clubs come from broken homes and the message of acceptance and the security of salvation speaks volumes to them, she added.

The influence on the kids was evident to Colston recently on a trip to Wal-Mart. Her shopping was interrupted by shouts of “Miss Linda! Miss Linda! Do you remember me?”
The child, a Kids Beach Club member from the previous year, ran and embraced her.

“We just love on them,” she said.

Once a school board gives approval for a club to meet on the campuses of their district, it is up to the churches to choose which school they will sponsor.

That decision was not at all difficult for the small congregation of North Euless Baptist Church. North Euless Elementary School sits just across the street. Walton said the Kids Beach Club ministry gave his church the opportunity to reach out to families in the working-class neighborhood.

He said his church has built a good working relationship with the school through the ministry.

“The school was very accommodating. They saw us as volunteers who were helping them out,” Walton said.

Upon review of parent registration materials, Walton also saw that there were a good many children without a church home or who attended church on a “regular” basis as defined by the parent. He even noted that two of the students were from Muslim families.

Walton and Colston said students from their respective clubs have attended their Vacation Bible Schools and other outreach ministries. Some of the children’s families receive support from an area para-church organization called 6 Stones, which also began at First Baptist Euless. Shady Oaks and North Euless partner with the ministry, which increases the opportunity for church members to see their Kids Beach Club members outside of club.

But it is in the club where they have the greatest impact. Children have made professions of faith in the clubs, Walton and Colston reported. In a statement posted on the Kids Beach Club website, First Baptist Euless Pastor John Meador said, “Kids Beach Clubs have given us an arm of outreach into the community and a place for people to serve the Lord! This past semester alone, our Beach Clubs saw more than 96 kids accept Christ. We’re working to expand our number of Beach Clubs this year. This is one of the best ministry investments I’ve experienced!”

Taking on the responsibility of hosting a Kids Beach Club does not require a large investment of time and people. Volunteers from both churches have included retirees, stay-at-home moms, and business men. Colston said there is a place for everyone. The 24-week program requires little preparation each week as the Kids Beach Club organization provides lesson plans for each week’s meeting. Time spent on campus, Colston said, is just over an hour. Volunteer training for the ministry is provided by Kids Beach Club.

“Beach Club makes it easy,” Colston added.

Walton said all he needs in volunteers are “people to come in and love on the kids.”

Churches can be local schools’ biggest fans

CARROLLTON—The school principal spotted the sea of blue T-shirts clustered in the middle section of the bleachers. Hollering above the background noise of cheerleaders and students, Carrollton Ranchview principal David Hicks thanked the 160 or so strangers there to cheer on the Wolves football team. He seemed to marvel at the turnout.

He’d heard they were coming to cheer, but not like this.

There at Carrollton ISD’s Standridge Stadium, not nearly a quarter full, sat the crowd from MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, each person wearing a blue T-shirt bearing the message “We cheer for Ranchview” on the front and “MBBC” and a player’s jersey number on the back.

Ranchview High is just down the street from MacArthur Boulevard Baptist and is just inside the Irving city limits, though it’s in the Carrollton-Farmer’s Branch school district. Much like the Valley Ranch area of Irving where the church is, the school is increasingly diverse, ethnically and by social class.

After Hurricane Katrina, the area drew a number of evacuees, some of whom have since joined the church. The school also drew of number of evacuee students, but attendance at football games has been sparse, the church learned last year from a coach who was visiting the church.

“There is affluence in this area, and there is also a mix of low-income housing, singles, young marrieds, different ethnicities from all over the world,” said Darren Mechling, an associate pastor at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist.

When Mechling learned from the coach last year that at one game only 38 Ranchview fans were in the stands (the coach stopped the tape and counted), he had an idea born from a desire to serve the community around them: Why not provide a cheering section of sorts for the football team?

It didn’t take long before 65 families were signed up to show up at home football games, some driving in 15-20 miles from Keller and Grand Prairie. Also, the church plans to serve a pregame meal to coaches and players at the school before four of the five home games this season.

MacArthur has already served a teacher appreciation luncheon, and it hosted a sports camp this summer for kids in the neighborhood, Mechling said.

“I’ve really been excited about how our church family has stepped up,” Mechling added. “This is an area where we have struggled to know how to reach out and minister, and this helps us to exhibit the love of Christ in a tangible way to our community.”

MacArthur’s pastor, Josh Smith, said his church has slowly grown more diverse in his five years there, and getting outside the church walls can only help as it attempts to minister to the community.

“We’ve tried really hard to be multiethnic, and the Lord has really blessed that,” Smith said.

Jamie Brooks, who grew up attending MacArthur Boulevard Baptist and graduated from Irving schools, brought his family—wife Esther and sons Caleb (6) and Zachary (3)—to the game on Sept. 3 against Prosper High School. The family was wearing shirts with the number 9 on the back, the jersey of wide receiver Chris Wimby.

“This is a good way to meet a practical need that [the team] had and to do it in the name of Christ,” Brooks explained.

Before the game and before the second half, church members raised the inflatable tunnel the Ranchview Wolves run through to enter the field, cheering on the team and offering words of encouragement. They needed it.

Down 37-0 at the half, Mechling and another MacArthur Boulevard member consoled an injured player who stood by as his teammates prepared to rally for another half.
Prosper, ranked No. 6 that week in the 3A/2A area rankings by the Dallas Morning News, prevailed, 54-13.

•••

Bill Liggett, pastor of First Baptist Church of Burkburnett, near Wichita Falls, said such outreach to local schools is a great ministry to school district employees, many of whom have to make do with fewer resources and often need a pat on the back or an offer of prayer if they so choose.

A surprising number, Liggett said, take him up on the offer of prayer.

No stranger to public school outreach—the churches he has pastored have hosted kickoff luncheons for school district employees 20 years straight and eight years at FBC Burkburnett—Liggett said such outreach and kind gestures give him and his staff a rapport with the school district, Burkburnett’s largest employer.

When crisis ensues or a need is felt, he is often the de facto chaplain on the scene.

“We don’t abuse that access, but we do have a relationship with the school system because of the love and care we have shown to the administrators, teachers, even the people who work at the bus barn.”

On Aug. 19, the church, with gifts from businesses and school boosters, gave away about $2,500 worth of door prizes to school district employees who showed up for a simple serve-yourself, cold-cuts sandwich luncheon and a rock-paper-scissors tournament. Grand door prize: $1,000 cash. Second place: $600 package to the Gaylord Texan Resort.

“We take written prayer requests. They know I’m the only one who will see them. It’s not something I’m going to hand out to someone else,” Liggett said.

Liggett said he had the opportunity to pray with several teachers and an administrator the week following at their request. Many school district employees are already members of FBC Burkburnett.

And businesses are eager to contribute prizes. In fact, Liggett said not one business turned them down this year.

Also, Liggett is a big fan of Burkburnett High School athletics, even serving as the public address announcer.

During pre-season football, he calls a local grocer a week ahead of time and orders a pallet of watermelons. When they arrive, they load them in a truck and serve the football team all the watermelon they can eat at the end of practice.

“Those players know when watermelon day is and believe me, it’s a hit.”   

Liggett said the church tries to extend the same support to local firefighters and police.

An early morning trip to the school bus barn the first week of school, two dozen donuts in hand, afforded him ministry opportunities he wouldn’t have otherwise had, Liggett said.

One conversation was with a guy he would have had difficulty connecting with in a different context.

“He spent 30 minutes talking to me about his recent open heart surgery,” Liggett said. Because of such outreach, “we’re the first entity anybody calls when there’s a need.”