Month: April 2016

Houston church retools annual community service day to focus on flood relief

HOUSTON—An annual community service day took on a new purpose for one Houston-area congregation in the aftermath of severe flooding from April thunderstorms. In response to the devastation, Champion Forest Baptist Church retooled its scheduled “Serve Saturday” April 23 to emphasize disaster relief.

“We completely pivoted what we had planned on doing, or most of it, so we could refocus our energy on flood relief,” said Jared Richard, Champion Forest’s mobilization pastor.

“We sent teams into houses and nearby apartment complexes to do mud-out and move furniture and pack people up. We had people go out in prayer teams to minister to people and talk to them, to help them walk through some of the grief they were experiencing from the overwhelming flooding.”

Champion Forest also deployed teams to area washaterias to pay for laundry and minister to people, Richard said.

The laundry ministry is a staple of Serve Saturday, but in the wake of flooding, area laundromats were especially crowded, said Lynette Adam, CFBC volunteer. “The church provides the quarters. Our people go out and greet the people coming in. They offer to help with laundry, and they pay for it. This year we paid hundreds of dollars,” Adams said, adding that team members also distributed Spanish and Vietnamese language Bibles.

On Saturday, a Filipino American man gave his life to Christ as one couple shared both quarters and the gospel. “The man right there in the laundromat prayed to receive Christ,” Adam said.

Seven people were saved on Serve Saturday, CFBC pastor David Fleming said. “I won’t say [this was] unintentional evangelism, but being intentional while doing service ministry. It was ministry evangelism.”

Altogether, 1,327 church members participated in Serve Saturday. They assisted in mudding-out 56 homes in addition to ministry in laundromats and apartment complexes.

Mud-out teams were led by trained volunteers, many of whom were among the more than 180 who had attended the SBTC disaster relief training hosted by the church on Friday, April 22. All participants received a 30-minute orientation before beginning mud-out work on Saturday, Richard said.

Elsewhere on Saturday, church middle schoolers sorted materials and assisted victims at a donation center set up at the Klein Independent School District multipurpose building, which is home to CFBC’s north campus, Richard said.

Serve Saturday also included ministry to area homeless. “Our homeless ministry, Champions 4 Hope, goes out every Saturday,” Richard explained. “A lot of the homeless live in the woods near us, and they were affected by the water.”

CFBC relief efforts began even earlier in the week. With Cypresswood Drive impassable, the local Harris County sheriff’s substation moved its vehicles to church property. Authorities also transported displaced nursing home residents to the church until they could be relocated.

Mid-week, as the floodwaters began to recede, the entire church staff conducted an organized outreach to member homes affected by the flooding.

“Wednesday and Thursday, our staff of 45 to 50 searched out our members whose homes had been damaged,” Fleming said. “Our staff mobilized. We literally walked into knee- and waist-deep water into neighborhoods where we knew we had members. We started mud-outs on Wednesday and worked all day Wednesday and Thursday. So by the time Saturday rolled around, our whole staff had significant experience.”

Praising Richard for doing a “great job” running “point” during the week, Fleming added, “I am so thankful for our staff setting a great example. Our folks are so good about volunteering and serving. It’s in their DNA.”

Emphasize the Family in Worship

Over the next few weeks many will be observing Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in addition to recognizing high school graduates. When I was a pastor I usually scheduled a day for baby dedication, a children’s day and a senior adult day as well. For about six weeks every year, I highlighted the family.

Coming in the June issue of the TEXAN will be a look at the complementarian approach to life and ministry. Simply put, complementarianism is the position that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in the family and church. Some complementarians are open to women holding an egalitarian place in government and business. Others are not. 

The Baptist Faith and Message Statement (2000) in Article 18 states:

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

 

Unapologetically, the BF&M 2000 presents the complementarian position for the home. 

Likewise, Article 6 on “The Church” says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified in Scripture.” Without equivocation, our faith statement restricts the office of pastor for a male. At the same time, the statement as it relates to church ministry provides a great deal of latitude in Baptist life. Churches may have women serving as deaconesses, on church staff with varying titles or leading in a variety of ministries. While my personal conviction would not allow me to pastor a church with some of those practices, the BF&M 2000 does not prohibit them.

Let me make a brief parenthetical comment here about the BF&M 2000. Our faith statement is broad enough to include Calvinists and whatever non-Calvinists are called. Eschatology is open to wide interpretation—non-millennialists, millennialists and numerous views on the tribulation all fit within our faith statement. We all agree Jesus is coming again! 

While we do not demand every Southern Baptist to be in lock step on every matter, we do have some positions that are irreducible. For example, there is no compromise on the nature of Scripture, salvation, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and “the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.” We are a confessional people with essential, specific beliefs. So, where there is room for differing positions, let grace abound toward one another. But, where there is undeniable clarity, let us not waver. 

The BF&M 2000 presents what we believe is the biblical position on the first institution given by God—the family. Churches are increasingly confronted with a myriad of challenges to this fundamental institution. People with same-sex attraction, gender identity issues, divorce, single-parent homes or couples living together without marriage are likely attending your church. What are we to do? 

Having a family emphasis on your church/preaching calendar is not the answer, but it is a start. As broken as we are, by God’s grace we can be light in darkness. Preach the truth of God’s Word! Teach biblical answers to family matters. Look for ways to highlight healthy families. Model before a dying culture a living example of Christ and the church through your husband and wife relationship. Encourage family worship at home that fuels worship as the church. We must constantly elevate God’s design for the family in a world that continues to devalue it. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The June edition of the TEXAN will feature a special report on complementarianism and its implications on churches.

Hispanic ministry leaders discuss strategies for reaching changing demographic

GRAPEVINE The only country population comprised of more Hispanics than the United States is Mexico, Mike Alameda said during a leadership summit April 5. And, according to U.S. Census projections, the number of Hispanic American citizens will continue to climb over the coming years, Alameda explained during the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s second annual Hispanic Leadership Summit, April 5. 

Alameda, who serves as founder and director of Corazon Ministries in Tucson, Ariz., spent the day speaking about Hispanic culture, changes Hispanics are experiencing and ways in which they can be reached for Christ. 

Alameda said he learned early on as a missionary to his own people 24 years ago that they are relational at the core.

“I was the first Christian in my Hispanic family,” Alameda said. “Like many of you, I wanted them to know Jesus Christ as their savior.”

Initially, family members were put off by his evangelistic methods, but Alameda says he learned that merely telling them they were going to hell would not work. When he began to invest in family members as individuals, taking interest in them and being aware of their need for love and purpose in life, they became more receptive to the gospel.

“All 76 of my family members are born-again Christians,” Alameda said.

Alameda also told summit attendees to observe and account for changes in the culture from generation to generation. “Every three generations, I have to change my approach to ministry,” he said. 

Whereas grandmothers were formerly strict disciplinarians, he said, today many of them instead opt for becoming the friends of their children and grandchildren. Even so, he said, Catholicism is still a large influence in the Hispanic culture, leading families to regard issues such as the sanctity of human life as deeply important. Alameda said where churches were formerly monolingual, they now need to incorporate Spanish and English. 

Alameda also addressed younger generations, mostly Millenials, and their desire for authenticity.

“Everything looks good at church, but as soon as they walk out of church, everything looks terrible,” Alameda said. 

Millennials need to hear testimonies in church and at home of how God has been good and faithful even in difficult times and trials, he said. They need to know that God will never leave them or forsake them, even amid grim news reports and current events.

“Discipleship is being honest and telling the truth,” Alameda said. “That is what they’re looking for.”

For more information about SBTC Hispanic Ministries and events like the Hispanic Leadership Summit, visit
sbtexas.com/hispanic-ministries

Committee on Resolutions named for 2016 SBC

ST. LOUIS Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd has named the members of the Committee on Resolutions for the June 14-15 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis.

Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, appointed the 10-member committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named at least 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting.

Floyd named Stephen Rummage of Florida as committee chairman and Jason Duesing of Missouri as vice chairman. Rummage is pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon; Duesing is provost and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.

The other committee members, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Kelvin Cochran, chief strategic officer at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta.
  • Linda Cooper, national president of Woman’s Missionary Union.
  • Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church Bossier City in Shreveport, La.
  • Shannon Royce, chief of staff and chief operating officer of the Family Research Council in Washington D.C.
  • Rolland Slade, pastor of Meridian Southern Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif.
  • Jim Smith, vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters in Washington, D.C.
  • Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, with offices in Florida, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The committee’s composition, according to SBC Bylaw 20, must include at least two members who served the previous year, with Rummage, Duesing and Slade meeting this requirement. Bylaw 20 also stipulates that the committee include at least three SBC Executive Committee members. This year they are Rummage, Slade and Cooper.

Submitting resolutions

The procedure for submitting resolutions is as follows according to Bylaw 20:

  • Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, giving the Committee on Resolutions a two-week period in which to consider submissions. This year’s cut-off date is May 30. Resolutions may not be submitted during the annual meeting.
  • Proposed resolutions should preferably be submitted by e-mail through the resolutions submission page at sbc.net/resolutions/submit or mailed to the Committee on Resolutions in care of the SBC Executive Committee, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203. Proposed resolutions must be typewritten, titled, dated and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church. NOTE: The submission form on the webpage will be available beginning April 15.
  • Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a Credentials for Resolutions Submittal form (downloadable from the resolutions submission webpage) or by a letter on church letterhead, either of which must be signed by the pastor or other church officer from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC annual meeting, certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.
  • No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.
  • The Committee on Resolutions submits to messengers at the convention only those resolutions the committee recommends for adoption. Such resolutions may be based on proposals received by the committee or may originate with the committee.
  • If a properly submitted resolution is not presented by the Committee on Resolutions to the messengers at the SBC annual meeting, a two-thirds vote is required to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor for consideration. 

Gift to Midwestern Seminary, record enrollment celebrated

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Assembling for its spring meeting, members of Midwestern Seminary’s board of trustees celebrated the announcement of a significant gift and received reports of enrollment growth.

President Jason Allen announced to the board during its April 4-5 meeting an anonymous gift of $500,000 toward the institution’s student center. He also reported that the spring semester enrollment reached another record level. 

“Year-to-date comparisons with the 2014-15 academic year indicates another year of robust enrollment growth,” Allen noted. “Our August 1 through April 4 total headcount last year was 1,789 students. Over the same time period this year, our unduplicated headcount rose to 2,193. In that we’ll add more students the remainder of this academic year, we anticipate our overall headcount to rise even more. Already, though, this year we’ve realized the largest enrollment in the history of the seminary.”

In other seminary news, Allen informed trustees about the development of a new Chinese Studies program to be launched next academic year. Within this program, Midwestern Seminary plans to offer courses and degrees in the Chinese language as a means of serving Chinese-speaking people in the U.S. and around the globe.

“With an already robust Korean Studies program, adding Chinese Studies will expand our offerings and, together, they will constitute our Asian Studies department,” Allen said. 

In other business, trustees approved the coming year’s budget of nearly $15 million, elected and promoted faculty, and elected board officers. 

Racial unity, prayer, missions, culture at SBC in June

ST. LOUIS “A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America” will be among the highlights of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, as listed in SBC LIFE’s spring edition.

The racial reconciliation emphasis will take place during the Tuesday morning session of the June 14-15 annual meeting, as announced by SBC President Ronnie Floyd.

Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., will be among the featured speakers.

Floyd and Young were key participants in two racial reconciliation gatherings in Jackson, Miss., in November and August last year. Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, and Young, who leads New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, subsequently were interviewed together by The New York Times and wrote an op-ed at CNN about racial healing in America.

Also on Tuesday morning at the SBC annual meeting, Floyd will deliver his presidential address and military veterans will be honored for their service.

For a second year, Floyd will lead a Tuesday evening session devoted to prayer, titled, “A National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership, Revived Churches, The Next Great Spiritual Awakening, and The Future of America.” 

Reports by the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board are scheduled for the Wednesday morning session, June 15, and the two boards will close the annual meeting with a special missions presentation on Wednesday afternoon.

The Wednesday afternoon session will begin with two panel discussions: “The Local Pastor and Church in American Politics” and a question-and-answer period with the presidents of the SBC’s 11 entities and the Executive Committee.

Delivering this year’s convention sermon on Wednesday will be Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. The theme of the annual meeting will be “Awaken America, Reach the World” drawn from Acts 4:31.

Online registration for messengers and local hotels can be accessed at SBCAnnualMeeting.net. Information for preschool childcare and programs for children ages 6-12 and students in grades 7-12 also is available through the website. Information about the annual Crossover evangelism outreach prior to the annual meeting can be accessed at St. Louis Metro Baptist Association.

5 Ways to Tear Down Walls Between Pastors

Isn’t it strange how often pastors of gospel-preaching local churches in the same area don’t really know each other? Our church members think we all get along fondly; I mean, after all, we are outposts of the same kingdom, pursuing the same mission, on behalf of the same king, so it only stands to reason, we must get together. If they only knew. 

It’s understandable that pastors of different churches in the same area operate in silos. Admittedly, our roles can be so demanding and the pressures so great, that often the last thing we have time for is to spend time together. But it’s a major kingdom loss that we don’t. 

When pastors talk to each other, we are better able to discover what the Holy Spirit is trying to do to build the kingdom in our area. I’ve learned over 14 years of pastoring that the Spirit rarely moves in only one church when he is at work; he seems to work in broader movements so that what he lays on the heart of one pastor, he also lays on the hearts of other pastors. 

Further, when pastors talk to each other, misperceptions from afar about each other and our churches are replaced with truth; we are far less likely to form opinions of each other based on hearsay from church members. Additionally, if we talked with each other, we’d probably spend kingdom resources better in our community. And in the coming days, we would be able to encourage each other and work together as the vice tightens on religious liberty. We are going to need each other.

Here are some ideas for breaking down the invisible walls between pastors in a community: 

1. Pastors can pray by name in their personal prayer times for other pastors in the area. It is really hard to remain hardened toward someone when you pray by name for the Lord to bless him. When I do this, I sense the rivalry, competitiveness and jealousies in my heart evaporating, and I find myself rooting for him.

2. Pastors can use their pastoral prayer times in Sunday morning worship to pray by name for another pastor and his church in the area. Your people will be blown away. When my people hear me give thanks for the pastor and church down the road and pray God’s blessing on them, it starts erasing the sense of rivalry and jealousies in our congregation’s hearts, and we find ourselves instead rooting for the churches around us. 

3. Pastors can choose to speak very carefully to their members about area churches. I remind my members every so often that we do not criticize area churches. No matter what happens, they are the bride of Christ. Do not criticize his bride. 

4. Pastors can send each other “kudos” when they hear of kingdom victories at each other’s churches. If you want to encourage another pastor, celebrate with him when the Spirit is moving in his congregation. Give him a call. Write him a letter. Stop by his office.

5. Finally, of course, rather than wait for that other pastor to call you to go to lunch, why don’t you initiate? Our different convictions about methodologies are no cause for contention, but rather celebration. How much does our Lord love your city that he sent a pastor like you and a pastor like the other guy to the same area so that by all means necessary, our Lord might reach some! Go to lunch with that pastor if for no other reason than to drive home afterwards marveling at the love of Christ for your city and to commit to pray for God’s favor on that shepherd.