Month: March 2017

REVIEW: Is “Kong: Skull Island” OK for kids & teens?

Bill Randa is a middle-aged, Indiana Jones wannabe in 1973 America who has discovered a new island on satellite images—and he desperately wants to explore it.

The mysterious South Pacific island has been surrounded for centuries by a perpetual storm system that swallows ships and planes, giving it a Bermuda Triangle-like aura that makes those around Randa hesitant to follow him.    

Randa has the guts and the gusto, but now he needs government assistance to get there. Fortunately for him, he has a wild card to play with Congress: a Soviet satellite is set to take pictures over the island in a few days. If there’s anything special on the island—say, the cure for cancer—it would be wise for the Americans to get there first.

Congress finally gives him the military escort he needs, but what he finds is something that not even the Russians would have wanted.

Kong: Skull Island (PG-13) opens in theaters this weekend, giving us the sixth English-language King Kong movie and the first since 2005. It is a reboot of the franchise and is part of Legendary’s “MonsterVerse” franchise, which also included the 2014 film Godzilla and will conclude in a few years with Godzilla vs. Kong.

It stars John Goodman as Randa; Corey Hawkins (24: Legacy) as Randa’s sidekick, Houston Brooks; Brie Larson (Room) as Mason Weaver, an anti-war photographer; Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) as James Conrad, a hired man for the expedition; and Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who leads the helicopter crew that transports the group to the island.     

Like the classic 1933 black-and-white version (which is better), Kong: Skull Island features a gorilla-like monster that is misunderstood and thought, wrongly, to be an immediate threat to humanity. Set at the close of the Vietnam War, the newest film begins with helicopters dropping bombs on the supposedly uninhabited island so as to measure seismic responses—an action that draws the ire of an angry Kong, who leaps out of the jungle and destroys a few helicopters.

Packard then orders the remaining helicopters to fire at Kong, which results in a few more deaths and all of the choppers being grounded.

Kong walks away, and the remaining survivors quickly split into two camps: 1) those who want to get revenge and kill King Kong, and, 2) those who believe they were wrong to come to the island and who just want to leave.

They soon learn that King Kong isn’t the only other-worldly creature on this island.

So, is Kong: Skull Island OK for kids and teens, or even adults? Let’s examine that question …

The Good

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Skull Island relies way too much on CGI effects, but it does include a decent plot that kept me interested. Like any monster movie, we all know that someone is going to get eaten, but who?  

Themes of sacrifice and doing what is right are also present, as is a strong—even biblically based—message about the environment (more on that below).

Period films always attract me, and this one is no different. We get to experience all of the stuff the ‘70s brought us: crazy clothes, unforgettable music and indestructible rotary phones.

The Bad

Any King Kong movie is going to be violent, but Kong: Skull Island is over the top. A giant spider kills a man by jabbing a leg into his mouth. Kong fights a huge octopus and tears it apart, tentacle by tentacle (and then eats it). A giant lizard-like monster splits out a bloody human skull, and then kills a few more people. Huge birds carry off a man and tear off his arm. Kong battles an even bigger lizard, eventually pulling out its tongue and organs.

On a gross scale of 1-10, this film is an 11. There’s lots of shooting, lots of blood, lots of death. And everything (including the creatures) looks very real—something to keep in mind for families. Sadly, Hollywood has forgotten the art of implication, which is one thing that made Alfred Hitchcock films so scary. In today’s films, gore rules.

Skull Island also is peppered with more than 30 coarse words: h— (9), d–n (6), s–t (6), a– (2), SOB (2), f-word (2), misuse of God (2), ba—-d (1), b–ch (1). A couple of anatomical terms also are included. 

There is no sexuality, although Randa enters a Bangkok establishment at the beginning that appears to be a combination of a bar and a brothel. A couple of women are seen, but nothing is explicit.

The Worldview

On the surface, Skull Island would seem to hold only an unbiblical worldview. We’re told that the island is the “land where God did not finish creation,” and we later hear that “this planet doesn’t belong to us” because “ancient species owned this earth long before mankind.” The expedition party even encounters a tribe that has animist beliefs and views Kong as god.

But a few members of the party hold environmental beliefs that square with a biblical worldview. They (correctly) argue that it was wrong to bomb the island for scientific beliefs. They (correctly) assert that King Kong is an essential part of an ecosystem that relies on him to keep it in balance. And they (correctly) say that Kong did what any animal would have done if it were attacked. How does this apply to the Christian, real-world context? God made us caretakers of the earth (Gen. 1:28) and we are to be good stewards. Of course, how we apply this concept isn’t black and white on every issue, but Skull Island does a nice job of raising the topic.

The Verdict: OK For Kids & Teens?

My oldest kids are 9 and 5, and Kong: Skull Island is far too violent and scary for them. As for this being or not being teen-appropriate, that will depend on a family’s level of comfort with language and violence. I know this much: I won’t be watching it again.

Discussion Questions

Should the helicopters have fired at Kong? Which character did you side with in the film? Should Kong have been killed? Does environmentalism and animal rights fit within a Christian worldview? What did you like most about the movie? What bothered you the most? Does movie violence shape our outlook on the world? (If so, how?)

Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Kong: Skull Island is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.

Texas Baptist Home for Children president Eddie Marsh resigns

WAXAHACHIE—The board of trustees for the Texas Baptist Home for Children accepted the resignation of President Eddie Marsh, effective immediately, during a special session March 9. According to a statement from board chairman Charles Johnson, Marsh, who has served as president for 12 years, “has chosen to take retirement.”

“The board thanks Bro. Eddie for his service to the Home during his term as the leader of the Home ministry.  Our prayers are extended to him and his wife Lynda as they transition to the next place of service the Lord has for them in His Kingdom’s work,” the statement continued.

Randy Odom, executive vice-president of Texas Baptist Home, will serve as interim president until a replacement is selected. Jami Hogan, programs administrator, will assist Odom in leading the organization. Trustees said the two have 41 combined years of employment at the home and have served during similar times of transition in the past.

“The trustees are confident with God’s helping hand, gifted leaders, and strong staff members working in one accord that the Home ministry will continue to successfully function during this vacancy,” the statement read.

Trustees decided to spend the next month in prayer before beginning the search for a new president. Guidelines for the process will be determined at the regular quarterly board meeting on April 11.

Texas Baptist Home for Children is an affiliated ministry with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Personalization plus efficiency: a sweet spot for mission

In the four years since he’s been leading North Richland Hills Baptist Church and Cross Church, pastor Scott Maze has seen the congregation double its Cooperative Program giving, and the key, he said, is all in making it personal. 

“If you’re going to make this Cooperative Program work as a pastor, then you have to personalize the people behind the Cooperative Program,” he said. 

Whether it’s interacting with church planters, taking an international mission trip, or building relationships with a seminary student or IMB missionary, Maze said knowing the people behind the program will make all the difference. 

“The strength of the CP is the efficiency. The weakness of the CP is it’s anonymity. You have to get behind that, personally, and bring those personal faces to the congregation,” he said. “When you have the synergy of the personalization plus the efficiency, you’re going to hit a sweet spot for mission.” 

6 Stones leads churches in transforming communities

EULESS First Baptist Church in Euless was emerging from millions of dollars in debt when an apartment building near the campus burned down. A staff member approached pastor John Meador with news of a resident who was left with nowhere to go and no one to help her.

“The reality was we could not help her because of the policies of our church,” Meador recounted. “At the time, being so deep in debt, the church said, ‘We’ve got to finish our obligations first. We can’t necessarily help the community at this moment.’”

Meador recalled “a grief, a heartbreak” that the church could not help someone in a time of need. That conversation prompted a “soul-searching, a time of prayer and fasting” that led to a leap of faith.

The church, in 2008, cast a vision for 6 Stones, a coalition of churches, businesses, and others that transform lives, homes, and communities. At a Catalyst of Hope forum Feb. 2 in Bedford, a panel of representatives explained how churches can replicate the 6 Stones model.

“It was kind of unusual for us to be approached at the city by someone asking, ‘What can we do for you?” Gary McKamie, a former Euless city manager, said. “… At the time, property values were falling. We had all sorts of needs. … We had a growing group of people that didn’t have decent roofs over their heads.”

First Baptist, via 6 Stones, partnered with the city—with the help of federal housing grants—to revitalize deteriorating homes.  

Gene Buinger, a former superintendent of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, said more than 50 percent of children in the area today come from homes at the federal poverty level or below, and more than 70 languages of the world are spoken in homes throughout the district.

When 6 Stones asked Buinger how they could help the school system, “I could give a whole laundry list of things that they could do with us,” Buinger said.

Among those projects have been Operation Back 2 School, providing students with school supplies, and Night of Hope, a Christmas experience for those in need.

Kim Campbell, a community affairs manager from TXU Energy, said 6 Stones gives her company an opportunity to collaborate with cities and then show elected officials what the company does in local communities. “What’s good for business is good for the community as well,” Campbell said.

Dan Alderson of Atmos Energy said his company helped revitalize nine homes with 6 Stones last year, picking up the bills for materials. “It gives our employees an opportunity to get out and serve,” Alderson said.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said collaboration between the private sector, the nonprofit sector and the public sector is what transforms communities. “It’s all best served when it’s the nonprofit that is really leading that collaboration because folks will volunteer, they will donate to a nonprofit. I haven’t had a whole lot of people line up to volunteer and to donate to the county,” Whitley said.

Faye Beaulieu, who works at the United Way and serves on the HEB school board, said her two roles enable her to see needs of the whole child. She cited “a litany of programs that 6 Stones brings that benefit the school district,” including repairing homes.

“If kids are not in a stable home where there’s adequate lighting, adequate plumbing, the roof doesn’t leak, then they’re not going to be able to study and they’re not going to be able to focus,” Beaulieu said.

Eric Swanson, a missional leadership specialist at Leadership Network, was the guest speaker at the forum, and he said the gospel is the integration of the good news and the good deeds of Jesus. As the Apostle Peter summed it up, Swanson said, God preached the good news through Jesus, and Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit, went about doing good.

“Preaching the good news and doing good deeds was kind of the rhythm of Jesus’ life and his ministry, because it’s the good deeds that verified the good news, but it’s the good news, the words, that clarified the meaning of the deeds.”

Eric Swanson, a missional leadership specialist at Leadership Network

“Preaching the good news and doing good deeds was kind of the rhythm of his life and his ministry,” Swanson said of Jesus, “because it’s the good deeds that verified the good news, but it’s the good news, the words, that clarified the meaning of the deeds.”

Swanson said the old church model was to use talents outside the church to build the church. Teachers were thought to make great Sunday School teachers. Businessmen were ideal for the finance committee.

“I think today there’s a shift going on and the best churches are really releasing the people in their churches to be transformational agents wherever they are,” Swanson said. “… It’s not about building your church; it’s about using your church to build God’s kingdom.” 

Stewardship resources available to churches

As churches emphasize biblical stewardship, various resources are available on the Southern Baptists of Texas website, and others are recommended by convention staff.

Resources by the Southern Baptist Stewardship Development Association are featured at (select “Stewardship Resources” under the Resources drop-down menu).

Resources through

  • “Catch the Vision,” a booklet explaining why to have a ministry of stewardship, how to organize for a ministry of stewardship and an action plan for a ministry of stewardship.
  • “Church Financial Guidebook,” a practical reference for establishing high-integrity financial procedures within the church. The guidebook offers best practices based on current tax law and popular financial management techniques to protect the church from reputation-ruining financial mismanagement.
  • “Connecting the Dots” provides an implementation plan for three individual but related products: “Catch the Vision” (stewardship ministry), “Building a Church Budget Wall Together” (church budget for the staff leader) and “Building a Church Budget Bridge for the Kingdom” (church budget for financial lay leadership). 
  • “Living Life for the Highest Purpose: A Study in Christian Stewardship,” an overview of what the Bible says about stewardship, including man’s stewardship of creation, Jesus’ perfect stewardship model, the church’s management of its mission and ministry, and church leaders’ roles as managers of God’s resources. 
  • “Pastor, Stand Up for Stewardship,” a handbook for pastors, church staff and stewardship committees whose responsibility is to plan and implement stewardship events, emphases and activities. 
  • “Points of Connection,” a booklet to help church leaders develop strategies to connect the church’s mission to the larger mission of God.
  • “Practical Ideas,” which offers pastors a two-year comprehensive plan to teach and promote biblical stewardship. It includes suggestions for measuring stewardship progress and for defining the characteristics of a biblical steward, and it’s designed for ensuring that biblical stewardship is consistently taught as a spiritual discipline within the church.
  • The convention website also provides resources on a church-wide emphasis, leadership, church budgets, inserts and drama—all related to stewardship.


 Other resources recommended by SBTC staff include:

  • “Effective Stewardship,” a five-session video study hosted by Dave Stotts, which teaches that stewardship is more than money dropped in the collection plate; it encompasses everything believers do after they commit to follow Jesus, including using talents and opportunities for his glory.
  • “Modern Parables,” a Bible study series on Jesus’ parables using short films combined with teaching by pastors and in-depth study materials. By modernizing the parables, the study creators sought to make them more accessible to a contemporary audience. Parables include “Hidden Treasure,” “The Shrewd Manager” and “The Sower,” among others.
  • “God Provides,” a film learning experience by Crown Financial Ministries, offers a dramatic journey through six short films and a printed companion guide to show how people in the Bible wrestled with trusting God to meet their needs rather than relying on the world.  
  • “Neither Poverty Nor Riches” by Craig Blomberg, which addresses one of the most difficult questions facing Christians today: the proper attitude toward possessions. The book unfolds a biblical theology of possessions, looking closely at the topic in the Old and New Testaments and then applying the principles to modern life. 

Praise the Lord & Pass the Plate

Joyful giving of tithes and offerings is an important part of worship, but methods can be quite diverse. In some churches, people stand, singing praises to God as the plate is passed; in others, they sit in reverence, with lovely background music. Offerings may be received at the beginning, middle or end of worship. Some churches use baskets, bags, bowls or offering plates. I was in a Texas church that received the offering by passing a cowboy boot! Still others receive the offering in a stationery container at the exit.  

Churches often intentionally recruit a wide variety of ushers—different ages, race, personality and clothing style. It’s a great “entry level” ministry to involve mature Christians with new believers and new members. The offering ushers can set a joyful attitude. Frowns are not required. Second Corinthians 9 instructs us to give our tithes and offerings cheerfully and with overflowing joy. 

Need some fresh ideas as you prepare for next Sunday’s offering? Try some of these: 

  • Pass the plate to every person—to crowded rows, rows with one person, choir, even children. I’ve been in three different churches recently where I had to flag down the usher to put my offering in the plate! Do your ushers unintentionally make it difficult to give? Train them to joyfully and unapologetically pass the plate, allowing every person the opportunity to give.
  • Reaffirm God’s instructions for giving by displaying an appropriate Scripture on the screen during offertory and reading aloud together. For example: “Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:13-14. 
  • Alert the congregation a few minutes before the offering will be received. Plan the worship service so people are seated briefly beforehand so they’re easily prepared.
  • Unapologetically remind the people how God uses those gifts to change lives and impact your community and world for Christ. Mention current church ministries and collaboration through Southern Baptist Cooperative Program.  
  • Offer options for those who prefer online giving. Use your church app or website. Some may use their bank’s free online bill-pay option. One church prints laminated cards, inserted behind the pew offering envelopes, with online giving instructions and a note: “If you give online and would like to participate in giving during worship, please place this card in the offering basket.”

A Christian’s voluntary, joyful giving of tithes and offerings demonstrates personal faith in God, obedience to his instruction, and firm belief that everything we have is from him. So praise the Lord and pass the plate!  

—Diana Davis is an author, columnist and minister’s wife. Contact her at or

REVIEW: Is “The Shack” a harmless story ¦ or utter heresy?

Mack Phillips once was happy and full of joy, but that was years ago, before his father physically abused him and before his precious 7-year-old daughter was murdered at the hands of a pervert.

Mack now spends his days questioning God, searching for answers and wasting his life, as his other two children and his wife wonder if he ever will come back to reality.

One snowy day as he’s clearing the driveway, something dramatic happens. A letter mysteriously appears in the mailbox with no return address, and it reads: “It’s been a while. I’ve missed you.” The author—“Papa”—requests a meeting with Mack at the “shack,” the horror-filled place in the forest where his daughter’s bloody body was found and where his life made a tragic turn. Although initially skeptical, Mack decides to make the trek to the shack, and his life is forever changed.  

The Shack (PG-13) opens in theaters this weekend, 10 years after William P. Young’s bestselling novel of the same name was released. The book sparked a theological debate that divided Christians of all denominations and led to the publication of such counter-books as “Burning Down The Shack.”

That division hasn’t gone away. In fact, people I know and respect—people who remain friends—have endorsed the movie. But I cannot. Although the movie has its uplifting moments, there simply are too many theological problems.

Mack (Sam Worthington) assumes he might be meeting with God but is surprised to find all three members of the Trinity in the woods awaiting his arrival. In the film, that means he’s meeting Papa, who is an African-American woman (Octavia Spencer); Jesus, a Jewish man (Aviv Alush); and Sarayu, an Asian woman (Sumire Matsubara).

The movie also stars singer/actor Tim McGraw as Mack’s friend, Willie.

Truthfully, I understand the pull of The Shack, and there were times I got caught up in the story. I even cried toward the end (likely because I have a daughter of similar age to Mack’s daughter).

Yet we can’t judge The Shack on emotional appeal. Scripture must be our guide.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the movie, beginning with the positive.

The Good

Despite the theological concerns, The Shack has several moments that should be applauded.

God’s love and forgiveness dominate the story. Mack questions Papa’s motives multiple times—“you let my little girl die!”—but Papa never grows impatient. “You have no idea how much I love you,” Papa tells him. Later, when Mack asks where God was when his daughter died, Papa says, “I never left you.”   

The film rejects moral relativism. When Mack struggles to come up with a definition for good and evil, Sarayu responds: “There are billions like you” deciding for themselves what is good and evil. “You weren’t meant to do that.”

Papa tells Mack that he has an “incomplete picture” of life and that his daughter’s death won’t make sense on this side of eternity. There’s even a Romans 8:28 moment, when Papa tells Mack, “I can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies. That does not mean I orchestrate tragedies.”

No doubt, some moviegoers who have gone through major tragedies will be encouraged by The Shack. For those who are always asking “where was God?,” the film does offer some solid answers.

The movie contains no coarse language or sexuality.

The Bad

Some of the problems that existed in the book did not make it into the movie. Nevertheless, two of the biggest ones—universalism and an unbalanced view of God—remain.        

Papa tells Mack, “I have a lot of names.” The Jesus of The Shack flirts with universalism when he tells Mack that he doesn’t care about words such as “Christian;” he’s only concerned with getting people to love Papa. The film then takes a step closer to universalism when Mack meets a person named Wisdom, who asks Mack what he would do to a man who sexually abused little children. “I would damn him to hell,” Mack says. Wisdom responds: But what if the man learned to do that from his father? Later, Mack wants Papa to send his daughter’s murderer to hell, but Papa responds: “He, too, is my son, and I want to redeem him.”

True, such comments could be interpreted as Papa desiring for the murderer to accept the gospel, but in the context of the film and considering the book’s theology, it doesn’t seem that way. That’s underscored when Papa is asked by Mack about wrath and seems confused what he’s talking about. Papa, we learn, does get “mad” but certainly doesn’t punish people. “I don’t need to punish people. Sin is its own punishment.” (For the biblical perspective, read Romans 1:18 and Nahum 1:2.)

There are other issues that might concern some moviegoers. Papa listens to reggae and enjoys Neil Young (“You like Neil Young? I am especially fond of him.”). Papa and Sarayu dance to music. Mack walks on water with Jesus (he doesn’t sink). And all three members of the Trinity eat with Mack at the table.

The Worldview

One of the biggest criticisms of The Shack involves its portrayal of the Trinity. The filmmakers, seemingly knowing this, have Papa, Jesus and Sarayu acknowledge their divinity from the outset.

“Which one of you is …?” Mack asks, but before he can say “God” all three respond simultaneously, “I am.” Later, Jesus tells Mack, “To see me is to see them.”

But that doesn’t take care of the problem.

For starters, in Scripture only one member of the Trinity—Jesus Christ—“humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8) and became human. There was only one Incarnation.

Further, God is spirit (John 4:24). Yet in The Shack, we see a visual representation of the other two members of the Trinity, which some believe is a violation of the Second Commandment.

Also, the biblical definition of the Trinity disappears in The Shack. Theologian Wayne Grudem summarizes the Bible’s teachings on the Trinity this way: 1) God is three persons, 2) each person is fully God, 3) there is one God. It’s simply impossible to watch The Shack—with three bodily representations on screen—and see “one God.”  

Finally, it should bother us at least a little bit that God the Father is portrayed as a female. Perhaps that doesn’t trouble everyone the same, but what if Jesus had been portrayed as a woman, too?  


Setting aside the theological concerns, The Shack has two major content issues for young children. We see Mack’s father whip him repeatedly, with a belt, during a heavy rain in the woods. Later, we are confronted with the reality that Mack’s daughter was abused and killed. (We see her blood-stained dress, and later we see her body.) Both scenes are intense. For those reasons alone, I would not take my young children.

Discussion Questions

What biblical qualities did Papa, Jesus and Sarayu exhibit? Did they say anything that countered Scripture? Was Mack’s father morally responsible for his actions, in light of what his father did to him? Should Mack’s daughter have blamed herself for the tragedy? Should Mack have blamed himself? What would you tell a friend in a similar situation? Was the representation of the Trinity biblical? Do you know of others who have experienced a major tragedy? How can you minister to them?  

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

IMB president challenges trustees to “move on” in days of unprecedented opportunities

RICHMOND, Va.—Amidst the world’s growing refugee crisis, Southern Baptists should focus on spreading the gospel in a world of urgent need and “move on” from distractions, International Mission Board President David Platt told trustees at the group’s spring meeting Feb. 28 – March 1 near Richmond, Va.

Trustee officers also announced they will begin an “investigative process” to discern how IMB trustees are placed on the board in order to better accommodate pioneer areas and small state conventions.

Noting “unprecedented” times, Platt referenced 1 Cor. 16:8-9 in talking about the church’s mission. “Paul says a wide door for effective work has opened to me; and there are many adversaries,” he said.

“It is high time to move on” from “deception, diversion, distraction, [and] division,” Platt said, noting how “these things” dominate news in the culture, in the church and “specifically in the Southern Baptist Convention.” 

An example of “such distraction,” Platt said, is discussion of an amicus brief the IMB joined last May in support of a New Jersey’s Islamic society’s right to build a mosque. In mid-February at a meeting with Baptist state paper editors, Platt apologized to Southern Baptists for the action – after Tennessee pastor Dean Haun resigned as an IMB trustee in November because he said IMB’s action was not consistent with its mission. 

Platt told his board at the meeting, “regardless of one’s views on religious liberties,” there is a new process in place to handle such matters.

“We’re living in a day with wide open doors both here and abroad, and it’s high time for Southern Baptists not to divide but to join together,” Platt said, “not to be distracted, but to be resolutely focused on the purpose for which we came together in the first place—to spread the gospel in a world of urgent need … and unprecedented opportunity.”

Speaking of courage and strength, Platt urged Southern Baptists to be an example to the world of what happens when churches join together “in love” to reach the needy.

“Look at the refugee crisis around us,” Platt said. “Never before in history have so many people been displaced or forced from their homes and driven to different lands, including our land—people who are longing for hope and we have an eternal hope to share with them, people who are longing for a home and we have an eternal home to bring them to. So let’s walk together through wide open doors.”

Platt introduced a video about “Abuk,” a young woman from First Baptist Church in Amarillo who embodies the immigrant spirit. She was displaced with her family as a young girl to live in the United States but is now returning abroad as an IMB missionary.

“Immigrants,” Platt said. “When we hear those words today, and they are so politically charged, … if we are not careful we can start to picture immigrants as problems to be solved, not people to be loved.”

Platt closed his report by reading aloud the names of retired staff and missionaries who have died in the past year, which included 58 emeritus missionaries that collectively represent 1,672 years of spreading the gospel, for an average of 29 years each.


Scott Harris, board chair from Brentwood, Tenn., at the close of the meeting announced the formation of a team tasked with learning how the IMB “connects with the larger Executive Committee process” to bring trustees onto the board, he said.

The issue was discussed in the final moments of the IMB’s Feb. 28 trustee forum, Harris said, at which time board officers asked several trustees to serve on a team “that would help us all understand the landscape and what changes, if any, we may want to recommend be implemented in due course.”

Joining Chair Rob Peters of North Carolina, in the “investigative process,” according to Harris, is David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; Lucinda Snead, Ariz.; Joel Williams, La.; and Spencer Plumlee, Mo.

“We look forward to working with them as we ascertain the best way to move forward to also ensure that our pioneer areas and smaller state conventions are adequately represented here on the board,” Harris said.


In a time of prayer awareness, IMB’s senior VP for prayer, Gordon Fort, introduced the Arasu of India as an unengaged and unreached people group. He reported that in June 2011, the IMB counted 3,684 UUPG’s in the world, and that today there has been a net drop of 448 UUPG’s from the list, leaving 3,227 remaining.

“Today, someone cares for their soul. Someone is learning the language and preparing to plant a church,” Fort said.


  • During the meeting, IMB trustees also approved the appointment of 29 new personnel, including 16 units that will serve around the world with a combined missionary force around 3,600. 
  • Seth Polk, IMB’s support services committee chair, presented two recommendations related to endowments the board approved. The first proposed the appropriation percentage for 2016 be approved at 2 percent, and the second directed monies associated with endowments be moved to a separate pool with a specific investment strategy with designated returns for a projected payoff.
  • The next IMB trustee meeting is June 12, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz.

New “God focused” missionaries share stories in IMB Sending Celebration

RICHMOND, Va.—Three years ago Aaron and Kristy K. moved into an apartment complex in Fort Worth where over half the residents are refugees. 

“I had never considered international missions before I met Aaron,” Kristy said, “but through many short term opportunities, God began softening my heart.”

Kristy and Aaron were among 29 new Southern Baptist missionaries—six with ties to Texas—appointed through the International Mission Board March 1 near Richmond, Va.

Sent from Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Aaron said their family, after living among refugees has “seen their needs and heard their stories and come to a deeper understanding of their needs.” 

The celebration featured other couples from Texas who shared testimonies of their faith and commitment:

  • *Andrew and Hannah Wilde, who will serve among North African and the Middle Eastern Peoples, noted their specific call to that region. “We live in a time when there are more refugees and more displaced people than any other time in history,” Andrew said.
  • *Caleb and Clara Yun, also to serve among NAME peoples, spoke of God’s faithfulness. “We are excited to carry on the church’s mission,” Caleb said.
  • *Eric and Cait Marshall, who will serve among the Central Asian Peoples, and are sent by a Texas church, talk about God’s interruption while he was pursuing the American dream. “Jesus was worth the sacrifice of following His desires,” Eric said. 


Addressing the new missionaries and their families, IMB President David Platt told the newly appointed missionaries theirs will be the “most complicated work in the entire world.” 

“I can’t think of anything that is more complicated,” Platt said. “To go into every ethnic group in the world and live and speak in such a way that people in that ethnic group totally transform … what they believe in themselves and the world, their customs and cultures accordingly and what they value and what they live. …

“That makes negotiating peace in the Middle East easy comparatively,” Platt said.

Telling the appointees, “I think you’re good, but you’re just not that good,” Platt reminded them “this is a work that only God can do.”

Speaking of the importance of prayer from the text of Exodus 33:1, Platt asked what the greatest obstacle might be to advancing the gospel and emphasized the power of fervent prayer for the purpose of God showing his glory.

“We cannot do this work apart from the power of the Almighty God,” he said.

Drawing an illustration of Moses being told he could have the promise of God without the presence of God, Platt said this is similar to the “blasphemous” prosperity gospel preached across the world. 

Moses’ refusal to step away from God is key to how missionaries should live, Platt told them, offering four guiding principles for how they live: 

  1. You have an assignment you cannot fulfill, Platt said. If people overestimate their own resources and do not rely on the power of God, they will fail, he said.
  2. You have a privilege you cannot forsake. “Once you taste the glory of God, you want to see more and more and more,” Platt said.
  3. You have a family you cannot forget.
  4. You have a God you cannot fathom.