Month: November 2011

Full text of SBTC resolutions

IRVING—Messengers to the 14th session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting passed resolutions on the personhood of the unborn, Israel, biblical manhood and womanhood, financial stewardship, and appreciation for the outgoing president, Byron McWilliams of Odessa.

The text of the resolutions, as approved, are listed below:

 

Resolution #1

On The Personhood of the Unborn

WHEREAS, holy Scripture states that the very soul of an individual exists in the womb beginning at conception (Jeremiah 1:5-6; Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 49:1); and

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention is on record in The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as affirming our belief that “we should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death”; and

WHEREAS, Texas Southern Baptists have historically accepted the challenge to declare God’s moral standard as a foundation of His good news; and

WHEREAS, the very first resolution passed at the 1998 constitutional convention of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was to affirm that life begins at conception and that all human life is created by God and sacred; and

WHEREAS, in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority of justices, stated, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment,” thus the court found that the developing fetus was human but not a person and therefore separated humanity and personhood within the womb; and

WHEREAS, the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”; now, therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, we, the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, assembled in Irving, Texas, November 14-15, 2011, affirm that the personhood and humanity of the unborn begins at conception; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm that all human life in the womb should have the protection rights of personhood under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm and support those states that have a “Personhood Amendment” under consideration for their respective states to adopt; and be it finally

RESOLVED, we encourage our elected Texas legislators to adopt an amendment that would affirm the personhood of the unborn. 

 

Resolution #2

On Israel

WHEREAS, on May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was created, becoming the only majority Jewish nation in the world; and

WHEREAS, the national sovereignty of Israel was recognized by the United Nations in 1949; and

WHEREAS, Scripture details various covenants God makes with man, and one of these covenants is the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3, 6-7; 13:14-17; 15; 17:1-14; 22:15-18); and,

WHEREAS, one of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant concerns the land of modern-day Israel (Genesis 12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18-21; Deuteronomy 30:1-10), which God promised to Abraham’s descendants; now, therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, we, the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, assembled in Irving, Texas, November 14-15, 2011, recognize and affirm the right of the nation of Israel to exist in its current location; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm that the nation of Israel must maintain justice for all living within her borders (Exodus 22:21; Deuteronomy 10:19); and be it further

RESOLVED, we denounce revenge as a response for any past offenses (Romans 12:17-21), but support the right of sovereign nations to use force to defend themselves against aggressors; and be it further

RESOLVED, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), asking for the true peace of our Lord to touch the lives of all peoples residing in the nation of Israel; and be it further

RESOLVED, we call on both the Jewish and Palestinian people to pursue and adopt policies that cultivate genuine peace between themselves and their neighbors; and be it finally

RESOLVED, we affirm that the families of the world are blessed through the physical line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18), which is a reference to the Messiah, who came from the line of Abraham (Matthew 1:1).

 

Resolution #3

On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

WHEREAS, God’s desire in the gospel is to redeem for Himself a covenant people made up of men and women (Galatians 3:27-28); and

WHEREAS, men and women are both created in the image of God and have equal worth and value (Genesis 1:27); and

WHEREAS, an explicit result of the gospel is that in salvation both men and women are equal in Christ, (Galatians 3:27-28; 1 Peter 3:7); and

WHEREAS, there is much cultural confusion regarding the roles of men and women in the church and the home; and

WHEREAS, God has given both men and women vital and distinct roles in the life and function of the church, desiring the gospel to be portrayed through biblically structured gender relations in the home (Romans 16:1-15; Philemon 1-2; 2 John 1; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 2); now, therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, we, the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, assembled in Irving, Texas, November 14-15, 2011, affirm that God has a plan to create one new people in Christ, made up of men and women; and be it further

RESOLVED, we condemn any action which in nature or intent denies the inherent equality of men and women; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm the value of both men and women for the work and ministries of the local church; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm the call of women to many ministries in the church, but recognize that the office of pastor is limited to men; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm that God has established the husband as the head of the home and that the wife should graciously follow his leadership as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, we affirm that God has called the husband to love his wife through service and sacrifice—in the manner of Christ’s love for the church—as he bears the responsibility to lead, protect and provide for his family, not acting in a manner which will diminish her worth or joy; and be it finally

RESOLVED, we encourage churches to increase the ways in which they encourage and enable both men and women to serve in the church, and to instruct members in biblical manhood and womanhood.

          

Resolution #4

On Financial Stewardship

WHEREAS, God’s directive is that the whole tithe (10%), the biblical model for the financial support of the local church, be brought to the storehouse (Malachi 3:10); and

WHEREAS, according to the December 2008 Christianity Today, the median annual giving for an American Christian is slightly over one-half of one percent of after-tax income; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming amount of personal indebtedness has also impacted the financial strength of our churches and cooperative ministries; and

WHEREAS, everything we are and have is a gift from Almighty God (James 1:17); and

WHEREAS, Christ affirmed the tithe in addition to weightier matters (Matthew 23:23) and He is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 10:4); now, therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, we, the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, assembled in Irving, Texas, November 14-15, 2011, exhort all Texas Southern Baptists to tithe cheerfully to their local churches; and be it further

RESOLVED, we encourage Texas Southern Baptists to eliminate the bondage caused by consumer debt (Proverbs 22:7); and be it finally

RESOLVED, we encourage Texas Southern Baptists to consider the role our tithes play in supporting the local church and Southern Baptist cooperative ministries.

 

Resolution #5

On Appreciation for President Byron McWilliams

WHEREAS, Pastor Byron McWilliams has served as president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for the years 2010 and 2011; and

WHEREAS, President McWilliams has led our convention with great grace, dignity and integrity, demonstrating a Christ-like spirit; and

WHEREAS, President McWilliams has a missionary heart and vision for the nations, supporting missions causes nationally and internationally in obedience to the Great Commission; and

WHEREAS, Pastor Byron McWilliams’ term as president ends with the conclusion of our 2011 annual meeting; now, therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, we, the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, assembled in Irving, Texas, November 14-15, 2011, express our appreciation to Pastor Byron McWilliams for his service and leadership as convention president and to the First Baptist Church, Odessa, Texas, for their sacrificial generosity in sharing their pastor with our convention.

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Amid famine, life-and-death decisions grip Africa aid workers


NORTHEAST KENYA—“No, you can’t tell me that,” Don Sullivan* pleads softly into the phone. “We need that food. The people need that food.”

The Christian aid worker’s shoulders slump as he hangs up, his plan disrupted for the next day’s food distribution. He was expecting three trucks—33 tons—of famine-relief food for the Horn of Africa. But now, due to escalating al-Shaabab-linked violence in Nairobi and the constant activity of bandits and tribal fighting along the truck route, only one driver will brave the 13-hour trek. The other two have decided it’s too dangerous and refuse to bring the supplies.

Sullivan scans the list of 17 villages identified as most in need of assistance. Pen in hand, he starts to cross some off but cannot bring himself to do it.

“How do we decide who is the hungriest when everyone is hungry?” he asks, burying his head in his hands. He looks up at his wife Lucy* for help and then adds, “These are hard decisions. Every time I pass by a village that isn’t on this list, my heart breaks because we aren’t able to help them. Now this….”

Sullivan’s voice trails off, leaving the unfinished sentence suspended in their minds.

Don and Lucy are in northeast Kenya as aid workers, initially to help improve life in the villages—digging toilets and drilling wells—but after two years of no rain, they find themselves in the midst of the world’s largest hunger crisis. The United Nations declared the Horn of Africa famine on July 20, but the effects of the worst drought in 60 years have been apparent for more than 18 months.

Farms and gardens stopped producing a long time ago. Food prices skyrocketed with an inflation rate of 270 percent, making it impossible for anyone to purchase food, even if available in the market. Most livestock in the area perished after grazing land and wells dried up. More than 13 million Africans in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are in need of food assistance. Tens of thousands of people—including more than 30,000 children—have died from malnutrition or because of tribal conflicts over water and grazing rights.

For the Sullivans, the statistics are a harsh day-to-day reality.

As they walk through town, they see long lines at the water truck, but the water will run out before even one-fourth of those in line fill their 10-gallon jugs. They see empty stalls in the market where food vendors should be. And they routinely shuttle malnourished children to the clinic, praying it’s not too late.

“It’s difficult living in a place where it really is a life-or-death situation every day,” Don says. “When the need is this great, you struggle with if can you really make a difference or not.”

Lucy nods in agreement. There are days when the people’s desperation weighs heavily on her shoulders.

“You almost feel guilty sometimes having an abundance of food,” she says. “I mean, to know that all I have to do is go to my freezer and get what I need or want, while just a few yards down the road a mother is putting her child to bed hungry, it’s just painful. It hurts my heart.”

The aid workers talk as if the drought and famine ends at their front gate, but it doesn’t. They have simply adapted. They ration their water, even reusing water from their meager bucket baths to flush the toilet. To get their groceries, they make the long trek to Nairobi over horrible roads, through tribal fighting and past bandits holding up cars. Every 10 minutes, Don’s phone rings with a new plea for help. Hungry people constantly show up at their house because they heard that the Sullivans pass out a few handfuls of dried beans or rice, enough sustenance to keep someone going for another day.

The constant stress is taking its toll. Both Don and Lucy have health problems they didn’t have before the drought.

“I feel guilty saying I have an ulcer. Some might say that if I had the right kind of faith or if I was handling this the right way, seeing people hungry and dying wouldn’t affect me like that,” Don says. “But I’ve come to look at it differently.

“Sometimes Jesus asks us to follow him to places and walk with him where we experience pain and suffering. You can’t go to these places without it affecting you,” the aid worker says. “The thing that is probably the hardest is that our friends are hungry, not just the people in the village or on the streets. Our friends, our national partners, they are hungry too.”

Don’s eyes tear up at the mention of their friends. He adds, “I guess God gives us grace to do what we need to do. You don’t ever get used to it, though.”

Lucy places a comforting hand on Don’s shoulder. Then, without a word passing between them, they know what to do with the truckload of food. They decide to divvy it up between everyone on the list—even though it means there might be enough food for only a day or two.

“We’ll pray it will stretch until the other trucks arrive,” Lucy says. “Maybe this is just enough to get them over the hump. We just have to pray it multiplies.”

Update: The last two trucks finally arrived. The other two drivers still refused to come, but the one brave driver made the trek three times so the food shipments would reach the people. More shipments of food are planned. Pray that each truck will arrive safely.

To learn more about how the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund meets needs overseas and in North America, visit worldhungerfund.com.

* Names changed.

Board approves new Criswell agreement

IRVING—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board entered into a three-year affiliation agreement with Criswell College as the school enters a new era under new bylaws and a newly constituted trustee board.

Also during the SBTC board’s fall meeting on Nov. 16 in Irving, the board elected new officers and honored SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass, who will retire next February.

The meeting dovetailed with the convention’s annual meeting, held at the Irving Convention Center Nov. 14-15.

The Criswell College agreement “is a historic moment for us,” remarked Criswell President Jerry Johnson. A board largely appointed by First Baptist Church of Dallas had governed the school, founded in 1970 by renowned Dallas pastor W.A. Criswell. Earlier this year, a separation of the school from the church was formalized along with new governance.

Johnson said the school is aligned with the SBTC doctrinally and missionally, evidenced by the collaboration of the school and convention in a Crossover event that coincided with the SBTC annual meeting where 25 people prayed to receive Christ.

“That’s the kind of thing we want to do with you,” Johnson said.

CASS HONORED
The board also passed a resolution in appreciation of Don Cass, who will retire as director of evangelism at the end of February. Cass was elected to his post eight years ago after a long ministry as a pastor and with conventions in Texas and New Mexico.

Cass was lauded for his leadership in the yearly Empower Evangelism Conference. Under his watch, attendance at the Student Evangelism Conference doubled.
“Thank you for the privilege of serving you. The journey’s been wonderful,” Cass told the board.

NEW OFFICERS
The board elected a new slate of officers.

Hal Kinkeade, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springtown, succeeded two-term chairman John Meador of First Baptist Church of Euless. Kinkeade previously was vice chairman. The new vice chairman is Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville. The secretary is Jo McGuire, a member of Cornerstone Fellowship in Haskell.

FINANCIAL REPORT
Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis reported that Cooperative Program giving through September was $478,237 shy of budget but $422,202 ahead of the same period last year. However, with spending below budget, total net operating income through September was $694,206.

Giving through the Annie Armstrong Offering for North America was up $167,282 compared to last year; Lottie Moon giving was up $458,067 compared to last year; and Reach Texas giving was $11,729 higher than last year through the same period.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS
New board members include: Kie Bowman, Hyde Park Baptist Church, Austin; Amy Joslin, Community Baptist Church, Royse City; Chris Moody, First Baptist Church, Beaumont; Mary Margaret Norman, First Baptist Post; Jeremy Rogers, Hillcrest Baptist, Kemp; Keith Sanders, First Baptist Keller; Paul Sanders, Houston’s First Baptist; Larry Bailey, McCombs Baptist, El Paso; Robert Welch, Rock Hill Baptist, Brownsboro; Terry Turner, Mesquite Friendship Baptist; and James Nickell, First Baptist Quitman.
Turner, convention president, and Nickell, recording secretary, serve by virtue of their office.

CROSSOVER REPORT
Jack Harris, SBTC evangelism associate, reported that three churches and Criswell College participated in the Crossover evangelism effort preceding the annual meeting, resulting in 54 professions of faith, including one woman who had just hours earlier attempted suicide.

This year, ethnic churches in urban settings were heavily involved.  “We have a huge, huge field of ethnic people that we need to reach,” Harris told the board.

In addition, the board approved affiliation requests from 25 churches.

Loud and clear

Junior high and high school kids say sexually inappropriate things to each other. No, really, I just read an article that described the problem as “pervasive.” In fact, it’s now being called sexual harassment.

According to a nifty, free online legal dictionary I found, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.” Now, I clipped out the parts of the definition that seem irrelevant to a school context but you may think, as I did, that most people’s teenage years, particularly junior high, were infused with an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.” It’s one reason that young teenagers are such stressed-out people. Their lives are lived in a Lord of the Flies culture where the tune is called by other stressed out young people.

You may not doubt me but if you do, I invite you to go sit in the food court at a suburban mall and eat a number one combo from Chik-fil-a. While you’re munching your waffle fries, watch the young people who migrate to and fro in your vision. Some of the girls are struggling to keep their clothes covering the legal minimum and a few of the boys are treating them with a level of disrespect I’d have never imagined 40 years ago. Where did these behaviors come from? Once you’ve finished your delicious meal, police up your red plastic table and wander down the mall. Understand that the stores are not owned by teenagers and that the money that keeps them open comes from those closer to middle age. You pass by the Abercrombie and Fitch but don’t go in because of the overpowering smell of high priced cologne. In the window, though, you’ll rarely if ever see a poster featuring someone fully clothed or who looks over 20. On you go past Torrid, Victoria’s Secret, and other stores that do good business marketing provocative clothes for girls and provocative expectations for guys. This environment is hostile to the idea that kids should ever think anything pure about sex.

I believe that things are worse but not different than when I was young and charming. Everything from music to clothing styles added to a more sexually charged atmosphere during my early adolescence. I remember a shaving cream commercial with Joe Namath where a lovely woman wearing nothing from the shoulders up (the rest was up to my imagination) prompted Broadway Joe to “take it off; take it all off” in a Nordic accent. She was of course referring to the shaving cream on his face but my 13-year-old ears burned as I sat on the couch with my parents watching TV. It was an intimidating environment. As tame as it sounds, it pushed the boundaries in its day. The problems we cause in our sexualization of everything are real and I don’t make light of them. Since that day, the culture has given us the extreme but logical extension of the sexually charged 1960s.

What seems cynical about this is that we are likely to pass laws, zero tolerance zones for sexual harassment, in the places where we send our teenagers every day. Those community activists  who do so will be going to their day jobs in marketing, retail, entertainment and so forth—industries that have come to depend heavily on creating a sexually unhealthy environment for kids. How hypocritical for us to call a teen-aged response to the stimuli that roll over them like a tsunami “harassment.” Popular culture harasses these kids every day.

Freedom to say something or sell something does not come to anyone without responsibility. It is unfortunate, tragic even, when we who sell feel justified by anything we do so long as we stay within the strict and enforceable bounds of the law.

Item: Transformers II, a movie about good and evil intergalactic robots disguised as cars and planes is rated PG-13. This is supposed to mean that this content should be OK for your 13-year-old. The sexual content in this movie was more blatant than it was in most “R” or “M” (for mature audiences) rated movies of the 1970s. And the movie was in no way whatsoever marketed for “mature people.”

Item: X Men: First Class, a movie about good and evil mutant humans with extraordinary powers (characters based on a great comic book series) is rated PG-13, with all that theoretically implies. That movie contains an extensive scene of parading ladies wearing only undergarments. The movie also has one use of the big daddy of all profane words, in service of nothing at all. This movie was not marketed for people old enough to have teenagers either, it was clearly for kids.

Item: A recent article in Psychology Today told us what we all know; sexual lyrics make music more popular. The article went on to feature a study that showed the frequent references in R&B and Pop music to promiscuity, specific body parts, prowess, and seduction. Country music topped the survey only in references to courtship, parenting and rejection, and was nearly tied with R&B (way above Pop) in references to commitment. It’s called “Pop” music because it’s popular, right? What is it that’s plugged into our kids’ ears nearly every waking hour? The article suggests that the music is popular because of the sexual references. People old enough to be parents of consumers only make money if the music they market is popular. And other people old enough to be parents have the vapors because teenagers are saying inappropriate things about sex to one another.

This is an example of clear communications: message encoded, message transmitted, message received, message decoded—crystal clear. Our kids understand what we’re saying as a culture, except when we tell them to ignore the blatant messages we give them in return for their parents’ money. In reality, we are either insane or truly unconcerned regarding appropriate attitudes and behavior on the part of America’s primary inhalers of popular culture.

What are your kids and grandkids seeing and hearing as they consume pop culture? As you buy gift cards for young people on your shopping list, ask yourself what you know about those vendors. Take the extra trouble to know what you’re supporting. Kids haven’t essentially changed that much; but clearly, the environment adults create for them has changed a lot, and not for the better.

Apologists call for confidence amid worldview struggle

EULESS—Christian apologist J.P. Moreland described the secular culture’s bleak outlook on historic Christianity: Not only is Christianity depicted as a religion for the ignorant, it is also viewed as a religion for the immoral.

“If you follow the religion of Jesus you’re not only ignorant, you’re immoral, because Christianity is now being identified as the source of many of the moral problems of Western culture,” Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology in LaMirada, Calif., said.

Christians are “viewed as unthinking, anti-intellectual bigots because we follow Jesus.” In this environment, then, how can Christians stand confidently in their faith?
Moreland and a lineup of other apologists argued that Christians could indeed defend their faith confidently during the Confident Christianity Conference held at the First Baptist Church of Euless, Nov. 4-5.

The apologetics conference was sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the SBC’s North American Mission Board, Biola University, and the Confident Christianity ministry.

Despite secular society’s bleak view of Christianity, Moreland insisted that “historic Christianity is still a vibrant worldview in American culture” and that Christians have made progress amid the clash of cultures.

In this clash, Moreland said, “historic Christianity” opposes two worldviews supported by “the major universities, Hollywood and the news media”: “scientific naturalism,” with its claim that only the physical world is real and the only way to gain knowledge of it is through scientific study, and “postmodern relativism,” with its claim that “all truth and reality is completely relative to your view, to your culture.”

“What is at stake today is not the truth of Christianity,” Moreland said. “The fundamental thing at stake today is whether you can actually know that Christianity is true. …

“What needs to happen is that we, who believe and love the Lord Jesus, must recapture the idea that this book, the Bible, and the great creeds of Christianity provide us with knowledge of reality,” and not merely faith or opinion. For this reason, Christians must not only know that they hold certain beliefs, but they must know why they think these beliefs are true.

CHRISTIANITY STANDS ALONE
Craig Hazen, professor of comparative religion and apologetics at Biola, argued that Christianity stands apart from the religions of the world.

“Christianity is testable,” Hazen explained. “You can offer evidence for it. You can offer evidence against it, and it actually means something.”

Considering 1 Corinthians 15, Hazen pointed out that Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Christ.

“The apostle Paul hung Christianity by a thread, the thread of the resurrection,” Hazen said. “If somebody comes along and snips that thing, according to the apostle Paul … the whole thing comes crashing down.”

On the other hand, Hazen said, “We can know this to be true objectively. It is not about our feelings. … Christianity is true whether you believe it or not. … We can claim to know that Jesus came back from the dead. The evidence is quite compelling.”

Hazen also encouraged participants at the Confident Christianity Conference to grow continually in their understanding of the Christian faith and apologetics.

“There is a reason a lot of us don’t witness. We all know what it is. We’re afraid people are going to ask us those hard questions,” Hazen said. “You know what, it is not that hard (to prepare for evangelism through the study of apologetics). You attend a couple of conferences like this, listen to some of the CDs, read some of the books, absorb some of the information and let that vocabulary become your vocabulary. It’s not a lifetime study, and suddenly, guess what you get? Confidence.”

RELATIVISM’S FLAWS
Clay Jones, associate professor of apologetics at Biola, recommended a truth “serum”—spelled S-E-R-U-M-M to create an acrostic—that reveals the weaknesses of “moral relativism.”
According to Jones, “two out of three adults and four out of five teenagers say there is no such thing as objective or absolute truth. In fact, only 51 percent of Protestant pastors think that absolute truth exists and is based on the Bible.” As stated in Jones’ acrostic, moral relativism is:

  • Self refuting: Without recognizing any contradiction, relativists argue for at least one objective, absolute truth—namely, that there is no objective or absolute truth.
  • Evil enabling: Since they claim that no objective, absolute truth exists, moral relativists “are incapable of unequivocally condemning even the greatest horrors.”
  • Racist befriending: Similarly, moral relativists cannot condemn the slave trade or the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews as objectively, absolutely wrong. They have no basis for arguing that racism is, in fact, morally evil.
  • Utterly hypocritical: For moral relativists, “the only real value in the world is tolerance.” In fact, according to Jones, “the only thing that moral relativists tolerate is other moral relativists.” For the relativist, claims of objective or absolute truth are intolerable.
  • Morally stagnating: For moral relativists, no standard exists for judging moral improvement: “Is Germany, objectively speaking, morally better because they no longer exterminate Jews? … Is a man better off morally because he no longer beats his wife?” Moral relativists cannot answer these questions without giving up their relativism.
  • Mind closing: Moral relativists can be “intellectually lazy” since, as they argue, no absolute moral truths exist to be discovered and examined.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
Mary Jo Sharp of suburban Houston introduced the greatest challenges that confront working apologists. In 2006, she developed Confident Christianity, a web-based apologetics ministry, and she is a certified apologetics instructor with the North American Mission Board. Sharp called her presentation “Dispatches from the Apologetic Outpost,” drawing the greatest challenges facing Christian apologists from her experience.

Sharp said the first challenge that working apologists must face, is “poor reasoning” in their opponents arguments. Some people, she said, resort to “character assassination” in place of sound arguments. Some wrongly assume that “a question constitutes an actual argument.” Others build arguments based on a faulty understanding of Christianity. Others attack Christianity but refuse to defend their own beliefs.

“Part of our mission, in our current time, is to show people the problems … of poor reasoning,” Sharp said. “While we are arguing the case for Jesus Christ, we are going to have to teach logic along the way: What contests a good argument? You are going to have to teach that while making a case for Jesus Christ.”

Second, Sharp said, “Many people are constructing Christian history, as well as world history, to match their worldview.” A “disinterest or apathy in historical truth” leads to a lack of concern in setting the Bible within its historical context.

Third, Christian apologists face demands for unreasonable evidence to prove Christianity. People should, rather, focus on the vast amounts of available evidence. Finally, Christian apologists face the existence of truly difficult questions.

“There are difficult questions out there,” Sharp said. Instead of trembling at these questions, Christians should “consider them an opportunity to learn” and to minister.
“Many people that come to me are suffering from pain in this world, so they don’t just need a philosophical answer,” Sharp said. “So these opportunities to engage in these questions also provide a great opportunity to minister the gospel and love of Jesus Christ.”

At annual meeting, God showed his favor

Another convention has come to a close. Once again, God showed His favor. This annual meeting set a record for the most registered attendees at 1,776. This is remarkable when you consider the economic difficulties we face and the decline of interest in some denominational circles.

I am thankful to God for the number but I am also thankful to God for the warm and obedient spirit of His people. There were many highlights. You can read reports of God’s work during the annual meeting throughout this issue of the TEXAN. Perhaps the high moment of the convention came for me during the closing session.

Participants at the Nov. 15 evening session made their commitment public to reach the unreached. A challenge was offered to “Embrace the Unengaged.” About 3,800 people groups in the world do not have a church, an evangelism strategy or in many cases they have never heard the name of Jesus. Leaders from 126 churches took the first steps on a journey to embrace the unengaged. It was amazing to see people express their willingness to do whatever God would have them to do. The atmosphere was a spiritual mountaintop for all who witnessed it.

The SBTC staff is ready to assist any church, association, or group of churches that would like to be involved in embracing the unengaged. The SBTC has an emphasis on India, but we will facilitate missions anywhere in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board.

Prayer started the planning process for the 2011 SBTC Annual Meeting. Prayer saturated the sessions. Prayer was the key that unlocked the presence and power of the Lord as we gathered in Irving. “Praying and Going” became more than a theme. It became a spiritual battle cry.

We have been stirred to reach the ends of the earth with the gospel. Praise the Lord! Yet, there is much work to be done in Texas. We cannot lose sight of our Jerusalem. There are 25 million people in our state. The majority of them are without Christ. Christianity has lost influence in our nation. We no longer see the cultural influence that was once predominant in so many areas. We must reach our Samaria (those who live close to us but differ from us) in North America.

Giving and going together will be the way we can accomplish it. Giving is not enough. There are not enough paid missionaries to do the work alone. Going is not enough. A local church trying to reach Texas is not possible, much less reaching the world. Giving and going is not enough unless we do them together. Together we can reach Texas and touch the world.

The 2011 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is over but the passion burning in the hearts of God’s people has just begun. Let’s keep giving and going together.

Texas churches answer call to embrace people groups

IRVING—More than 125 leaders from Southern Baptist churches in Texas responded to the appeal to lead their members to embrace at least one unreached, unengaged global people group (UUPG) with the gospel.

The response came during the closing session of the Nov. 14-15 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting at the Irving Convention Center during a challenge for Texas churches to take responsibility for reaching 1,000 of the estimated 3,800 UUPGs worldwide.

In International Mission Board terms, an unreached people group is one in which fewer than 2 percent have a Christian testimony; and an unreached, unengaged people is one in which there is no active gospel witness. Some of these 3,800 unengaged peoples have no Bible in their language, and a few have no written language.

After hearing about the International Mission Board strategy from retired and current missionaries as well as IMB president Tom Elliff via videotape and SBTC leaders in person, the audience offered a clear response. 

Several dozen children from Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill sang about their desire to follow the Great Commission and “do whatever it takes to give glory to your name” as the call was sounded. 

“God has given us incredible favor, harmony and focus, providing resources for us,” stated John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, appealing for an unprecedented missionary response by churches. “If we don’t lead the way, who will?”

Meador added, “I’m thrilled to be part of the army of God of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and I want to answer my commanding officer who says, ‘Go!’ with a resounding, ‘Yes, we’re going. Yes, I will lead my church to go … to the ends of the earth, reaching unengaged, unreached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.”

Following the meeting, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the SBTC Executive Board the response from Texas Southern Baptists “was just absolutely thrilling and beyond anything we could have asked or thought of.”

A church that agrees to engage a UUPG is doing more than simply praying for that people group; they are taking responsibility to directly engage them with the gospel over the long term utilizing the training and resources of the IMB. The initiative is a change for the IMB, whose 5,500-plus missionaries are spread across the globe.

At a conference earlier this month, Elliff rejected the notion that missions should be “left to the professionals,” reminding those gathered that missionaries are sent out from local churches. “We facilitate that, train them and try to give them some idea about strategy, but ultimately they come from your local churches.” The “Embrace” strategy is an attempt to use trained missionaries and local churches in collaboration.

He and Wright issued a challenge last June for Southern Baptist churches to stake a claim on all 3,800 of the UUPGs by next year’s SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.

Also last summer, the SBTC Executive Board gave $1 million in reserve funds through the IMB’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions while challenging Texas Southern Baptists to embrace at least 1,000 of the 3,800 UUPGs.

Richards, in his report to messengers, said,  “It’s not enough just to give and it’s not enough just to go. … We must give and go together.”

For more information on answering the call to embrace a UUPG, visit sbtexas.com/embrace or contact the SBTC Missions Team toll free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).

Stroope urges ministers to equip families to disciple children

IRVING–Because pastoral staff can’t “do it all,” Steve Stroope, pastor of Lake Pointe Church, encouraged ministers to delegate ministry needs by equipping families to disciple their own children and equipping church members to lead.

Citing both Old Testament and New Testament precedent for the biblical principle of delegation, Stroope called attention to Ex. 18:17-22 and Eph. 4:11-13, where Moses and Paul both called out and trained leaders in the congregation for ministry.

“We keep doing all the ministry, and we need to be handing it off to our families and handing it off to our leaders,” a conclusion Stroope said his church came to after evaluating how well their church lived out its 13 core values.

“One of those values says ‘we believe the family is the primary vehicle for spiritual formation.’ That value came in dead last in terms of how well we implemented it,” said the Rockwall pastor. “It wasn’t that we didn’t believe the family was a primary vehicle for spiritual formation, we just weren’t applying it in our church.”

Suspecting that many churches experience the same ministerial disconnect, Stroope said, “It’s not what is not happening at the church that is making the difference, it is what is not happening in the home.”

To remedy their failure to equip and support families to carry out the Great Commission in their homes, Lake Pointe responded with four points of action.

First, the church declared Christian discipleship in the home a parental responsibility.  “It’s not the church’s job to win and disciple Christian parents' children,” Stroope said. “It is their job.”

“The truth is we can do everything perfect at the church in the one or two hours we have the children of our families,” he said. “And our families can undo everything we’re doing in one day. So we have to make a declaration,” Parents, it is your responsibility to lead your own kids to Christ and then to disciple that child.”

Second, Lake Pointe began to resource parents with biblical information.

“The church needs … to become knowledge brokers, to say here’s the best book on parenting, here’s the best book on managing finances in your home, here’s the best book on marriage, here’s the best book on communication, here’s the best book on dealing with a child with special needs, and resource our people so they know where to go and where to get the right information.”

Third, the church aligned existing ministries to include the family in the spiritual process.

“Sometimes that’s as simple as letting them know what is going on at camp,” said Stroope, adding that Lake Pointe began to televise camp speakers and discussion times so parents have talking points when their children return home.

The key to seeing families become disciple-makers lies in reducing the number of church events, Stroope said. 

“I think it’s wonderful when we gather together at church, but if a football team spent all its time in huddle it would never score any touchdowns. If anything there ought to be fewer things at church and more things that get pushed down to the family.”

Fourth, the church began to remind families about their responsibility to make disciples. Stroope said Lake Pointe runs recurring campaigns on “what it means to do family.” They cover topics such as praying together, serving together, and even sharing meals together.

And part of this is it is about saying the pastor of the church cannot do it all, a children’s minister cannot do this all, a student pastor cannot do it all, and to hand back to the family their part of this thing called spiritual formation,” he said.

Along with equipping families, Stroope said the church should strive to apply the biblical principle of delegation to all members of the body – both paid staff and volunteers.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that the average church in America never gets larger than about 150 people, because that’s all that one man can minister to,” Stroope said. “We’ve got to do more than just do ministry, we’ve also got to lead.”

Leading, said Stroope, is about “letting go” of the ministry and delegating it to others. “Part of our job is to give away more of our ministry so more ministry can be done without neglecting our own family and our own relationship with God.”

Stroope outlined three parts of delegation: the clear communication of vision and values, absolute truth telling, and “contact with control.”

“You’ve got to stay in contact with the person you’ve handed the ministry off to,” Stroope explained. “If you don’t stay in contact with them and you’re not reading how well they are heeding the vision and how well they are adhering to the values, then you’re not delegating responsibility, you’ve abdicated responsibility.”

“Here’s the reality – when we do ministry we’ve got to give away more of our ministry so we can accomplish more ministry.”

SBTC OKs $26.2 million budget as churches ’embrace’ unengaged

IRVING—The ballots given to 901 messengers were never needed at the 14th session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. With overwhelming unity on display, raised hands were sufficient for messengers to approve a $26.2 million budget, elect Mesquite pastor Terry Turner as president, and pass five resolutions on topics ranging from the personhood of the unborn to biblical gender roles.

With another 875 guests registered at the Nov. 14-15 annual meeting, total attendance set an all-time high with a focus on “Praying and Going” based on Acts 13:2-3.

The climax to the meeting came on the closing night as 126 church leaders walked the aisle to signal their intent to lead their churches to “embrace” an unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG), part of an SBTC challenge to Texas Southern Baptists to work toward engaging with the gospel 1,000 of the estimated 3,800 UUPGs worldwide.

Turner, the first African American to hold that office, is a trustee of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and was described by his nominator, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson, as a commendable servant, a courageous supporter of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message doctrinal statement “and in the continuing history of great and godly presidents of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.”

With an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism, Patterson said Turner “is ready to broadcast the gospel to the world” and with two master’s degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary, “he knows what to talk about.”

Patterson also praised Turner, a Guthrie, Okla., native, as a missions advocate, having spread the gospel in Zambia and Belize, and a church planter who led Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church to grow from five families when it began in 1991 to a membership exceeding 2,100. The church has also helped plant five other congregations.

Loui Canchola, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, an eight-year-old congregation in McAllen, was elected to a second term as SBTC vice president. Canchola, also elected by acclamation, has led Cornerstone to plant five churches, said his nominator, Jim Sherwin, pastor of Celeste First Baptist Church.

James Nickell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Quitman, was elected unopposed as recording secretary, praised by his nominator, Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist in Fort Worth, as a former church planter in British Columbia. FBC Quitman leads its association in Cooperative Program giving, Pearle said.

EMBRACING PEOPLE GROUPS
Hearing from retired and current missionaries as well as IMB President Tom Elliff via videotape, the churches responded to the call to embrace at least one UUPG. Prior to the meeting, about 75 churches had agreed to engage a people group, said John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, and outgoing Executive Board chairman.

“Why 1,000? Because to whom much is given, much is required. God has given us incredible favor, harmony and focus, providing resources for us,” stated Meador, appealing for the missionary response. ” If we don”t lead the way, who will?” ”

Meador added, “I”m thrilled to be part of the army of God of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and I want to answer my commanding officer who says, “Go,” with a resounding, “Yes, we”re going. Yes, I will lead my church to go . . . to the ends of the earth, reaching unengaged, unreached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.””

While much of the focus in the closing session was placed on India, Embrace is a global effort and churches are encouraged to seek God”s leadership as to where they will embrace a UUPG, said SBTC Missions Director Terry Coy. Existing SBTC international partnerships and the new Embrace strategy are “separate but not totally distinct strategies,” he explained.

“Our partnerships are in locations where there already is engagement, working with IMB and/or national Baptists on the ground. However, the two emphases do dovetail, because in some cases (such as India and Turkey), there will be opportunity to work with UUPGs,” he said.

BUDGET
The 2012 budget of $26,274,704 is a 3.16 percent increase over 2011. On behalf of the SBTC Executive Board, Meador related, “God has blessed us in great ways. This budget is a prudent approach to take advantage of the opportunities and be wise with the resources God has provided for us for the year 2012.”

“We are called to walk by faith, but also walk in such a way that when we look back we could say we were wise,” he added, expressing appreciation for the convention”s generosity in giving $1 million in reserve funds through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions earlier this year.

Of the 45 percent of undesignated receipts retained for in-state ministry, about 36 percent is earmarked for missions and evangelism; 9.94 percent for facilitating ministries; 13.03 percent for church ministries; 10.64 percent for operational and financial; 9.94 percent for facilitating ministries; 9.5 percent for communications; 7.94 percent for minister/church relations and 7 percent for multi-ethnic ministries. The Minister”s Outside Retirement and Protection Benefits special allocation amounts to 5.97 percent.

The SBTC forwards 55 percent of Cooperative Program funds to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministry worldwide. The convention is ranked fourth in funds given through the CP allocation budget, behind much older state Baptist conventions in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

Messengers also approved a motion bringing the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation into compliance with recent changes to Texas non-profit law, increasing representation from five to seven members over the next year.

Recommendations from the committee on nominations as well as the committee on order of business were approved without objection, affirming David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, to preach the convention sermon at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Nov. 12-13, 2012.

PRESSLER AWARDS
Two SBTC area coordinators were honored with the H. Paul Pressler Award”T.C. Melton of Abilene, who covers West Texas, and Casey Perry of Malakoff, who covers East Texas. They were recognized for their extensive service pastoring and mentoring church leaders statewide.

As a pastor at Elmcrest Baptist Church in Abilene, Melton mentored numerous younger men, including Golden Gate Seminary President Jeff Iorg and B&H Publishing Group President Brad Waggoner, both of whom served under him, as well as pastors now serving across West Texas.

Perry has been a leader among Southern Baptists for many years and was involved in the SBTC”s formation. He has served on numerous denominational boards, most recently as a trustee at Southern Seminary. Perry pastored in Malakoff, Mercury, Muleshoe, Terrell and Arlington, as well as churches in North Dakota and Kansas. “

In making the awards, Pressler honored “distinguished couples,” noting that in both cases the husband and his wife “have worked so hard together to exalt the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

EXECUTIVE REPORT
SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told messengers the convention would continue to adapt to the churches” needs. He recounted the insights gleaned from a series of “Praying & Listening” sessions in the first half of 2011, noting recurring requests for help in leadership development, discipleship, technology and other areas.

The mandate from SBTC churches has been to keep church planting a priority, which is reflected in the annual CP budget. Accordingly, “We will keep it a centerpiece of our efforts and energies,” Richards said.

Richards encouraged churches to continue reaching Texas while also engaging the world. Noting the challenge from the convention for churches to engage unengaged, unreached people groups, Richards said Peter”s vision in the book of Acts that led to his engagement of Gentiles with the gospel required overcoming some obstacles. Yet Peter obeyed God, leading to his witness with Cornelius.

There are Corneliuses everywhere responding to the light of natural revelation, and “God is touching your heart to answer the call” to offer the gospel, Richards said. “The question is who? Who will go for us?”

RESOLUTIONS
While no new motions were introduced from the floor, messengers did approve an amendment to one resolution to make the language conform to an article of the Baptist Faith & Message confession.

The resolution on biblical manhood and womanhood affirmed the “equal worth and value” of men and woman in creation and in Christ while noting distinct biblical roles “in the life and function of the church” and in the home. The resolution affirms “the call of women to many ministries in the church, but recognize that the office of pastor is limited to men.”

The resolutions committee, chaired by Pearle, the Fort Worth pastor, had no objection to the substitute language offered by Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, who replaced the committee”s phrasing of “role of senior pastor” with “office of pastor.”

The personhood resolution came after Mississippi voters defeated a referendum that would have legally recognized the personhood of the unborn beginning at conception. The SBTC resolution noted, “We affirm that all human life in the womb should have the protection rights of personhood under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution also affirmed states with personhood amendments under consideration, and “we encourage our elected Texas legislators to adopt an amendment that would affirm the personhood of the unborn.”

The Israel resolution affirmed that “one of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant concerns the land of modern-day Israel” and that the state of Israel has a right to exist in its current location. Also, “we call on both the Jewish and Palestinian people to pursue and adopt policies that cultivate genuine peace between themselves and their neighbors.”

Financial stewardship was addressed by a resolution calling the tithe “the biblical model” and lamenting personal debt and statistics showing the median giving for American Christians is “slightly over one-half of one percent of after-tax income.”

The full text of resolutions may be read online at sbtexas.com.

OTHER BUSINESS
SBTC President Byron McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa, urged the convention to follow John the Baptist”s lead in seeing that “He must increase but I must decrease.” Jesus” cousin was fulfilled in his subservient role to the Christ, McWilliams said.

“May we as the SBTC always properly handle the glory of God because he must increase and we must decrease…. We are the little servants of an illustrious Savior,” McWilliams added.

Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church of Humble, delivered the convention sermon from Psalm 95. Warning against the unfaithfulness of the ancient Israelites in the wilderness, Lino pled in light of the challenge to engage unreached peoples, “All we are saying today is, if you hear the voice of God about the mission of the church, will you harden your heart or will you trust and obey?”

Biblical challenges were offered throughout the sessions by Robert Welch Jr., pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church, Brownsboro; Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin; and Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church, Longview; with Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, giving the closing challenge Tuesday night.

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., preached a guest sermon during the closing session, urging messengers to see the theological significance in messages such as the one he preached on David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17.

“This story is not about the power of David, the little guy, it”s not a story about the underdog who won. ” This is a story about the God in whom David trusted,” Dever reminded. He warned preachers not to brag on themselves or their institutions but in the God who blesses.

In addition to SBTC missions and ministries challenges, messengers and guests heard from Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land; SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page (by video); LifeWay Christian Resources consultant Pat Ford; GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins; North American Mission Board Associate Vice President Shawn Powers; and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Phil Roberts on behalf of all six SBC seminaries.

IMB unanimously passes Global Connect 2 pilot project

RICHMOND, Va.—A new pilot project approved unanimously by International Mission Board trustees Nov. 15 will allow up to 25 churches to fully fund and send their own short-term missionaries.

Through the project, called Great Commission Global Connect (GC2), sending churches will pay for deployment costs and ongoing salary for these GC2 missionaries and have a key role as accountability partners to those personnel. IMB will partner with these GC2 churches by helping select missionaries and providing strategy consultation as well as administrative support and training.

After unveiling the proposal, IMB President Tom Elliff made it clear that GC2 field ministry will be “in concert with the total strategy” of the IMB. The IMB will cover the cost of sending church-funded GC2 missionaries through its standard eight-week training regimen, with a limit of 100 adults to be approved for the pilot.

“It’s not as if they come up with a strategy, tell us what they want to do and go over and do that,” Elliff said. “That’s not the way this works,” he added, calling the strategy “field-driven.”

When GC2s arrive on the field, they will “absolutely, 100 percent be operating under the supervision, under the authority of our field team,” Elliff told the TEXAN in a later interview. Total compliance with IMB policy is specifically required of GC2 appointees in the covenant agreement between the sending churches and the IMB.

The TEXAN obtained a draft copy of the pending covenant, which currently states that all practices and policies now applying to IMB missionary personnel will apply equally to all GC2s. That includes conducting ministry within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message confession and following the principles of the IMB’s indigenous church planting strategy.

GC2 appointees would not be “some privileged people who can hop, skip and jump into the system without chinning the same bar that the rest of our personnel do,” he said, later comparing the standards for which they will be accountable to those currently used with International Service Corps. Only members of Southern Baptist churches that are in agreement with the BF&M and give evidence of a growing Christian faith and commitment to evangelism need apply, he added.

Furthermore, missionaries deployed under the pilot project “don’t get any more money or less money” than current IMB personnel serving in comparable settings.

Participating churches will send designated gifts—three months in advance—to provide the amount of budget necessary to pay GC2s, Elliff explained. “They’ll be on the same kind of stipend as every one of our personnel in the same kind of agreement.” Failure to make timely payments will result in termination of the covenant and withdrawal of GC2 missionaries.

Accountability for on-field GC2 ministry practices and personal behaviors will not rest solely with the IMB, but also with the sending churches, representing a significant change from current practice of traditionally appointed missionaries.

When GC2 missionaries “realize that they are responsible to local churches, and their churches are going to be in their face with regard to their lives and what they are doing on the field—I can’t see that, friends, as anything but healthy and in recognition of who we are—a parachurch organization,” Elliff told trustees.

“We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Southern Baptist Convention,” he explained, reminding that missionaries are sent out by local churches under the call of God. “We are a facilitating organization.”

IMB trustee chairman Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, told the board. “There was a great culmination of the work of the board on this last recommendation,” referring to the GC2 pilot project following passage without further discussion. “It was studied, prayed through, went back to staff, then back to trustees,” he said, referring to a period of more than two years ironing out the expectations of sponsoring churches and the IMB.

Texas trustee A.C. Halsell of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio told the TEXAN that Elliff effectively responded to each concern that any trustees had over the process of developing the proposal.

“All of us are expecting a successful venture. If there happen to be some shortcomings in the project, they should come to light in the two-year window,” he added.

Trustee Marshall Johnson of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving said the pilot also would reveal how invested SBC churches are in the Cooperative Program, “and how willing we are to add other avenues to our mission support.”

One aspect of the arrangement that he is interested in evaluating during the two-year period involves the “two bosses” of GC2 personnel, referring to the sending church that pays the missionary’s salary and the field personnel who direct the missionary’s work.

When Elliff was asked by the TEXAN if he sees the GC2 pilot program as more reflective of a New Testament model of missionary-sending, he responded, “Yes, I do. Missionaries came through the local church,” said Elliff, referring to men like Barnabas and Saul who were sent out by the church at Antioch.

Pritchard added, “These missionaries, all of them, are coming from churches and we’re a facilitating ministry of the churches. We’re wanting to get back to that,” he insisted.

Reaching people groups or population segments in order to plant indigenous churches is the goal of GC2, said Texas trustee Mike Gonzales, SBTC director of Hispanic and Ethnic Ministries, and a member of First Baptist Church in Colleyville. “This will enhance our SBTC goals in reaching the unreached, unengaged people groups (UUPGs) of the world.”

While still learning how this partnership will affect the SBTC in the future, Gonzales said, “We are to go to the ends of the earth and that will be our mission as long as we keep our focus on Christ.”

Elliff told trustees there were a lot of factors to making the decisions.

“The main question asked was, ‘Is this departing from the cooperative work we normally do as Southern Baptists? Is it an independent Baptist model?’ The answer is no—it’s just a new dimension to cooperation.”

Trustees also questioned whether a church that decided to fund its own missionaries would ultimately decrease giving through the Cooperative Program, Elliff said.

“We got that worked out in terms of the covenant,” Elliff noted, referring to a requirement that participating churches maintain their level of giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions for the duration of the GC2’s service, and must not reallocate those gifts “in order to fund their GC2s.”

“There is no way we would entertain doing this with a church that does not give to the Cooperative Program,” Elliff told trustees in plenary session.

Still in his first year as IMB president, Elliff told trustees the rationale for the GC2 pilot project is “a heartfelt response on the part of IMB to the Great Commission Resurgence.

“I thank the Lord for our seminaries. They have produced an entire new generation of passionate, young, theologically astute, and ardently mission-minded pastors,” Elliff said as background for the GC2 rationale.

“It is a new generation,” he added, reflecting on a meeting with some of these pastors. Elliff said he told them, ‘“You all are the answer to a dream that was born in the hearts of many of us years ago.’ I just couldn’t keep back the tears because these guys want to do it right.”

Elliff said the thing that such pastors “care about so much” is for IMB staff and missionaries, and all Southern Baptists to “understand that missionaries are called by God in the framework of the local church.”

Not only do these younger pastors want to send missionaries, they “desperately desire to maintain a contact between themselves and our missionaries who are on the field.”

“Sometimes things are more of an art than they are a science,” Elliff said, noting that the newly adopted recommendation will have to be refined as other current IMB initiatives were when they were initially adopted.

John Ross, a trustee from First Baptist Church of Longview, said the genius of the plan is in its simplicity. “It connects the local church intimately with the field.” As a church visualizes the Revelation 7:9 vision and a family in that congregation grasps “the Romans 15 vision of taking the gospel to an unengaged, unreached people group where no one has sown before, they receive training from the IMB and fill critically needed roles in partnership with us, mentored by veteran missionaries and integrated into the overall Southern Baptist mission effort.”

With the progress of evangelism and discipleship, Ross said the sending church has feet on the ground and would likely send more people to prayerwalk, witness and disciple “their people group.”

Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, said he expects God will give churches a specific burden for a people group funneled through “the greatest world mission organization that has ever existed.” The combination of “IMB processes and church passions” through GC2 “will put more people in more places for more souls to be won to Christ,” he said.

“As a pastor who is committed to annually increased Lottie giving and increased partnerships around the world in church planting, GC2 can become a tremendous success for IMB and individual churches.”

Despite the enthusiastic endorsement, Elliff said GC2 has yet to be introduced “into the mainstream of our strategy.”

“We are saying that this is a two-year pilot program” that trustees can vote on in 2013 based on IMB assessments and current SBC missions and ministry assignment per the Cooperative Program. IMB trustees will perform an interim evaluation of GC2 in 2012, he added.

“We’re going to watch it like a hawk for two years and listen to our affinity group and strategy leaders who ultimately have the last word on it,” Elliff said in closing. “We’ll discover what it does to our involvement in CP and Lottie Moon from these churches.”

Elliff added, “Jesus said that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart is. I feel like these folks that these churches are sending out—they need to be the treasures that God intends for them to be so that the heart of every local church follows. I believe this is one way that can happen,” Elliff said.

OTHER BUSINESS
The board also heard a report that nearly 1.5 million people were presented with a gospel invitation in 2010. Of those, more than 442,000 became new believers, and more than 333,000 new believers were baptized. Missionaries and local believers also started more than 28,800 new churches.

Scott Holste, IMB’s associate vice president of global strategy, said God used IMB engagement to accomplish some significant firsts, including newly engaging more than 200 people groups with the gospel, 90 of which are unreached (less than 2 percent evangelical Christian). Missionaries also reported the first believer among 26 people groups, the first baptism among 32 people groups and the first church among 13 people groups.

In other business, trustees approved IMB’s 2012 budget of $324.3 million, $175 million of which is expected to come through this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Charles Fowler, finance committee chairman and pastor of Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., said the 2012 budget was the “most difficult to balance of any in recent years.” To illustrate his point, he explained that the first draft of the budget prepared earlier this year contained a $37 million gap between projected income and projected expenses.

“Our staff has worked splendidly to bring us to a place where we can enjoy a balanced budget,” Fowler said. “Though we wish the resources were more, we are so grateful for the resources that God does provide to IMB through our Southern Baptist family.”

In a money-saving move, the board approved a bylaw revision reducing the annual number of trustee meetings from six to “at least” four times per year, which will save a quarter million dollars per year, CFO David Steverson told the TEXAN.

Trustees will travel overseas every other year to the part of the world where the affinity committee on which they serve is located, Steverson added. “Those trips are in addition to the four meetings in the USA and trustees participate in the costs of those trips.”

Elliff was inaugurated the first evening of the meeting during a special service at Richmond’s Grove Avenue Baptist Church on Nov. 14. The 77 newly appointed missionaries were present to hear their new leader describe his vision for the IMB.

After the Nov. 15 plenary session, Elliff reiterated his excitement over the potential that Global Connect 2 could provide for more long-term missionaries.

“The greatest feeder for Southern Baptist IMB personnel is having some kind of missionary experience on the field,” he said. “If you look at these people we just appointed, many of them were ‘Journeyman,’ ISC, ‘Masters’ or ‘Hands On.’”

In 2009, budget cuts forced IMB to begin sending significantly fewer two- and three-year missionaries, but Elliff said GC2 would help fill that gap and rejuvenate the feeder stream.

“We’re anticipating many of these people who go out in this short-term endeavor through these local churches will come back and say, ‘You know something? We want to be missionaries. We want to go back through the IMB and be fully supported Southern Baptist Convention missionaries.’ So we’re looking for a whole lot of influx there.”

Norm Miller is director of communications for Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., and provided this report on behalf of the TEXAN. Additional reporting by Don Graham of IMB.