Month: June 2017

REVIEW: Is “Despicable Me 3” family-friendly?

There’s a reason that the quirky man we call “Gru” is our favorite villain-turned-hero. He’s funny. He’s clever. And if you watch him long enough, you’ll discover he has a big heart, too.

But despite having three beautiful young daughters and a lovely wife, things aren’t going so well for our world-saving crusader.

That’s because there’s a new villain in town who keeps getting the best of Gru. His name is Balthazar Bratt, a washed-up actor-turned-bad guy who headed the No. 1 TV show (“Evil Bratt”) for three glorious years in the 1980s and then fell out of the spotlight once it was canceled. Today, he spends his time listening to 80s music, wearing 80s clothes, and stealing anything that will keep his name on the front page of the newspaper. And he stores it all in his Rubik’s Cube mansion in the sky.

Despicable Me 3 (PG) opens this weekend, continuing the saga of Gru (Steve Carell), his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), their three daughters, and, of course, the love-them-or-hate-them Minions.

The plot turns when Gru fails to nab Bratt (Trey Parker) during a theft of the world’s biggest diamond, which leads to the firing of Gru and Lucy in their roles at the Anti-Villain League. Searching for a job and for his purpose in life, Gru heads across the globe to meet his newly discovered twin brother Dru (Carrell), a rich underachiever who reveals that their father was a famous villain: “The Bald Terror.” Dru wants Gru to return to his old ways.

“Face it … villainy is in your blood,” Dru tells him.

What will Gru do?

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Violence/Disturbing Images

Moderate. Although it’s mostly the slapstick for-laughs variety. Bratt performs karate and kicks several people. Gru and a villain punch one another. Bratt lands darts on peoples’ foreheads. Gru tricks a visitor to his house into crashing a rocket in the adjacent neighborhood (the man is injured, but fine). Gru shoots missiles at a villain. Bratt, sitting inside a building-size creation of himself, destroys parts of a city.   


Minimal. We see a beach scene, with bikinis and some cleavage. Gru’s clothes are blown off (the scene is quick and everything except his bottom is covered). Seconds later, he is hanging from a giant bubble gum bubble, with a wedgie. We hear a comment about a girl “looking hot.” The Minions, while celebrating something, strip to their underwear and rub their bottoms. A pig pokes at Gru, who responds, “That’s my private part.” One of the Minions, in jail, exposes his bottom to get a tattoo. Some of Bratt’s dances throughout the movie are borderline risqué, including one scene in which he gyrates his hips while sitting on a workout ball. (Note: A scene from the trailer, in which Gru’s mom slaps a muscle man’s buttocks, is not in the movie.)   

Coarse Language

None, other than a jeesh, a “son of a” that doesn’t include a curse word, and a heck.  

Christian Images/Dialogue

Agnes prays in her bed for help finding a unicorn.

Life Lessons

Animated movies typically fall into one of two categories: 1) funny with a point, 2) funny without a point. Thankfully, Despicable 3 falls into the former category, and it carries several life lessons for families.

First, Gru faces a major temptation to return to his old way of life—the life that seemingly comes natural for him. Second, he encounters peer pressure from his brother and family to uphold the family tradition of villainy. Third, Gru consistently puts his three daughters and his wife first—prioritizing them in a way rarely seen in the real world, much less in animated films. Look hard, and there even are lessons on jealously and workaholic-ism.      


God isn’t mentioned in Despicable Me 3, but the film nevertheless is set in a world where good triumphs over evil and the traditional family is celebrated. Gru and Lucy are (mostly) fine examples of a loving father and mother.   


It’s difficult to find an animated movie that doesn’t have scatological humor. This one even boasts a flatulence joke before the movie starts (thanks to the Minions). Still, the low-brow humor doesn’t dominate the film, and the story’s positive traits—and wonderful ending—made me glad I took my 9-year-old son. It is mostly family-friendly.    

Movie Partners

McDonald’s and Kellogg’s are two of the leading companies partnering with Despicable Me 3.

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

I was skeptical about Despicable Me 3. Were we getting another film where the bad guys are being cheered? The answer: no, at least not if you wait until the end. 

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures know how to pull parents into a film, especially ones, like me, who grew up in the 1980s. The formula goes like this: Play lots of 80s songs. Show lots of 80s fads. And have a goofy character (Bratt) portraying all of it. I laughed a lot in Despicable Me 3. Thumbs up.

Discussion Questions

1. Describe a time in your life when you faced peer pressure or had to choose between good and evil.

2. List a few tips for avoiding/resisting temptation and peer pressure.

3. Why do you think Gru – despite his evil past – loves his three daughters so much?

4. What were Gru’s motives during the last half of the film? Did they change as the movie progressed?

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Despicable Me 3 is rated PG for action and rude humor.

SBTC launches Women”s Prayer Network

Grapevine “Women are going to get together, but when we get together we should really be talking to God,” said Camille Minor, who was recently named head of the new SBTC Women’s Prayer Network. 

The idea for the initiative was birthed from a desire by prayer strategist Ted Elmore to capitalize on and expand a culture of prayer that he said has always existed among women in the church. 

“The women in the churches, historically, currently, are some of the greatest people of prayer in our churches,” Elmore said. “They are the prayer warriors in the home. They are the prayer warriors in the church. They are the ones that are behind the scenes. We need to cooperate with what God is already doing.” 

The ministry will connect groups of women from churches throughout the state and encourage them to meet together regularly to pray. 

Minor, whose husband is pastor of Anderson Mill Baptist Church in Austin, said she has been privileged throughout her life to learn from the examples of many faithful women who have devoted themselves to prayer. Her hope is to see more and more women connecting over this shared desire to turn to Jesus.

“Even though there may be turmoil in our family, our church, or our nation, the Bible says in Luke 18:1 that Jesus told a parable to show that in all times they ought to pray and not lose heart,” Minor said. “As women, we’re not to give up or turn to other things for comfort; we’re to persevere in prayer.”

The Women’s Prayer Network will focus on praying for the home, the church, pastors, non-believers and the nation. 

“I want there to be a river of prayer all over Texas, where women are getting together in groups and praying. Maybe it’s once a month, maybe more often.”

Aside from fostering deeper relationships with the Lord, Minor also believes the network will break down walls and barriers between women in the church. 

“What I’ve seen in my own life is that meeting with other women to pray has been the one thing that has caused unity,” she said. “We may not agree with everything, but when you get together and you’re praying in the name of Jesus together, there’s a unity and a joy that you can’t really explain any other way.”

For more information on the Women’s Prayer Network, visit

Grieving wife, children grateful for care and support following pastor”s death

Waco Over the last year, Courtney McCash has walked through the pain of losing a spouse, but in the midst of her suffering, she has also experienced the love and encouragement of churches across the state. 

In April, her husband, Jason McCash, passed away, following a 14-month battle with cancer. A former chaplain in the U.S. Army, Jason had served as pastor of Timber Crest Baptist Church in Waco since 2014. 

During his final months, the McCash family’s time was consumed with medical appointments and hospital stays, as Jason’s health declined. 

“There was a lot of back and forth to doctors appointments and tests and wondering what’s going on,” Courtney recalls.

During this difficult season, Jason, Courtney and the couple’s two children found support not only from friends, loved ones, and their local church, but also from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. 

Throughout Jason’s illness, Gilbert Chavez, the field ministry strategist serving churches in that area of the state, faithfully walked alongside the McCash family, making visits to their home and offering constant prayer and encouragement. 

“It’s always nice to know that someone is praying for you, especially with Gilbert. You just know if he says he is praying, then he is. We could feel the prayers being lifted up, and that means a lot,” Courtney said.

After Jason’s passing, Chavez and the state convention remained valuable resources for the McCashes, contributing to emergency funds that enabled Courtney to entirely cover the cost of funeral arrangements.

“That was amazing,” she said. “I’ve heard so many stories of people that have to pay a fortune and are in debt because of a funeral, and I would hate to have had that. Thankfully, that (financial support) helped us to be able to go in and pay it and not have to worry about it.”  

Through the help of Chavez and other SBTC personnel, Courtney also learned that she was eligible to receive death benefits through GuideStone Financial Resources, which partners with the convention’s Pastor/Church Relations department.

Over the last three years, this ministry has provided $85,000 to families of SBTC pastors, like the McCashes, during times of need. 

“The money we received from GuideStone (is) going to allow us to buy a home,” Courtney said. “We’ve lived in parsonages for the last six years, … and I didn’t know what we were going to do. That’s going to allow us to be able to buy a home and not have to worry about finances at this point in time.”

Because of these benefits, Courtney said she won’t have to go back to work full-time, giving her the opportunity to be with her children as they continue through the grieving and healing process together.  

“That has alleviated a lot of pressure,” she said. 

Chavez said being able to come alongside Courtney in behalf of the SBTC during the last year has been an honor.

“It was a blessing to me to know that we were able to intervene and provide the encouragement of knowing that people are standing with her and beside her to support her and her family,” he said.

The love and support have not gone unnoticed, Courtney said. 

“It’s been great to have people that you know really care, that go out of their way, even though they’re not in the same city or area; they care and follow up with you and make sure that everything is ok.”  

The Single Greatest Crisis of Our Day

What would you say is the greatest crisis that we face in the world?





Religious Liberty?

Actually, the single greatest crisis of our day is that there are human beings who are not Christians. The crisis is so great, in fact, that there are actually entire people groups that still have not heard the gospel one single time.

This is by far the single greatest crisis of our day. Let me be clear about what I mean. It is of far greater consequence for one person to be saved than for all of Africa to be cured of its AIDS epidemic. It is of far greater consequence for one person to be saved than the cure for all cancers to be found. It is of far greater consequence for one person to be saved than for homelessness or world hunger to be solved. Lostness is a far greater crisis than racial brokenness, the displaced refugee crisis, terrorism, millions of babies being aborted, human trafficking, and orphans in need of adoption.

If someone dies in their lost state, they burn in hell forever. “For the wages of sin is [eternal] death …” (Romans 6:23)

Recently, a friend went to the ER with an intolerable headache and discovered he has a brain tumor. Now, let’s be clear, the headache was intolerable. So much so, surgeons performed emergency surgery in which they cut open his skull and drained fluid to provide relief in order that he could live with any quality of life. The headache was a major problem that needed significant attention. But, nonetheless, the headache was a symptom of the tumor. At all times, the doctors and my friend have been clear that the greater crisis at hand is the tumor.

As we see many symptoms of brokenness in our culture today, let’s not lose sight of the root cause. Social injustices are the intolerable headache; lostness is the tumor. One is a serious symptom; the other is the heart of the problem.

I have led my church to be involved in social justice issues including sanctity of human life, religious liberty, refugee ministry, immigration ministry, orphan care, hunger and more. And I am really proud of my members who are personally involved in these ministries. Out of our love and allegiance to Christ, we love our neighbors as we love ourselves; all of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

But none of this changes the fact that the single greatest need of our culture is evangelism and missions. Yes, we still address the symptoms of lostness in our culture, but our priority must be the heart of the problem—lostness.

As leaders of churches, we must regularly clarify in the minds of our people the symptoms of brokenness from the root cause, lest they become confused. Though we lead our churches to help provide culture with relief from social injustices, above all else let us prioritize and emphasize the actual sharing of the Good News with unbelievers.

Look Like Heaven: Language differences strengthen ministry of merged churches

LUFKIN For about six years two Lufkin churches have met in the same building—two independent congregations, two different languages but each working toward the same goal. Their kingdom work brought them together for mission trips and local ministries, and instead of letting their language differences act as a barrier, they realized what bound them together was greater than what separated them. 

Eventually, the two churches who shared the use of one building and ministry work in their community decided to become one congregation. Practically speaking, forming one church made sense. Spiritually speaking, they realized it could make all the difference in the world for the people of Angelina County.

“There is no more ‘us’ and ‘them’—what a picture of heaven [this] will be,” Randy Brown, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Lufkin said during the May 7 service celebrating the uniting of Templo Bautista Jesús es El Señor with Southside. “After today, we will truly be one staff working for the kingdom.”

With the use of a translator, Brown and Ricardo Coss, pastor of the Spanish-language congregation, told the joint congregation that their work together as “One church, Two Languages” will be a witness to the people in their community. 

“This is the Lord’s will to unite the people in church,” Coss told the congregation. “It does not matter the ethnic group or skin color.”

Six years ago, following a change of church leadership at their former meeting location, the Spanish-language congregation of 20-30 people was asked to find a new place to worship. Southside welcomed the congregation to use their facilities.

In 2014 and 2015 the pastors of both congregations left for new ministry opportunities, and Coss and Brown took the leadership roles at their respective churches, keeping the existing partnership in place.

Moving beyond sharing a building to becoming a single congregation soon became an issue to address, and both pastors entered the new relationship with hope and a healthy sense of the growing pains that may result.

“One of the biggest problems is the breakdown in language and culture,” Brown told the TEXAN. “I also believe that there will be a little bit of struggle with working within the church structure of getting things done in an orderly manner.”

Mike Gonzalez, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention director of Hispanic Ministries, who assisted with the transition, said churches are increasingly choosing to merge instead of simply share space. Traditionally a fledgling Spanish-language church would rent church space from a larger English-language (Anglo) congregation. Gonzalez called that the “two churches, one location model.”

Additional models included the Anglo church planting a Spanish-language “mission” church or creating a Spanish-language “department” within the church.

Coss and Brown recognized more things tied the two churches than separated them.

“To be honest most of our people already thought that we were one [church],” Brown told the TEXAN.

That unity was most evident among the children and youth, Gonzalez said. Many of the children attend the same schools and speak English, often acting as a bridge between the Spanish and English-speaking members.

The pastors recognized the confluence of circumstances that made a merger of the two congregations inevitable—and welcome. Brown noted the three-fold growth of the Templo Bautista Jesús es El Señor under Coss. And Coss knew that growth required organization as a church body.

After seeking counsel from SBTC Hispanic Ministries staff, the two congregations decided the One Church, Two Languages model would best serve the needs of both congregations and their community. They realize they have begun a journey that will have difficulties, but Coss said that is to be expected and will not overshadow the work God has for the new church, which will retain the name Southside Baptist Church.

“The church is like a lab from God,” Coss told the congregation. “Here is where we learn to live together, to forgive each other, and to accept each other. That’s the Lord’s will.”

Brown said their efforts are already bearing fruit.

“I can’t tell you how many people who have asked me to share what is going on,” Brown said. “Our country is so divided now; it’s time for the church to tear down the barriers that divide us. As we seek to be a multi-ethnic church, it bears witness to our community that Jesus and his commands are real in our lives.”

The month of July has been set aside as the statewide emphasis for the Look Like Heaven initiative, which is designed to encourage cross-cultural interchange among SBTC churches. For more information, visit

REVIEW: Is “Transformers: The Last Knight” OK for kids and teens?

Has anyone seen Optimus Prime? That’s what General Morshower—and every other good guy on Earth—wants to know.

The last time we saw our hero, Prime was drifting through outer space, toward his home planet of Cybertron, searching for his creator.

That’s too bad, because we sure could use him.

Our home planet is a wasteland. Transformers have been banned, and a government-backed para-military unit, the Transformers Reaction Force (T.R.F.), is searching the city streets with orders to destroy all “robots in disguise.” The good Transformers (Autobots) are hiding out in Cuba and South Dakota, while most of the bad ones (Deceptions) are in jail.

So, who’s going to save us from that giant alien planet careening toward earth? Scientists tell us it will kill tens of millions of people and likely end civilization as we know it. If only we could find Optimus Prime.   

Transformers: The Last Knight (PG-13) is now in theaters, giving us the fifth live-action film in the series based on the 1980s toy line. It is directed by Michael Bay and stars Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, who is assisting the Autobots hiding out in South Dakota; Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly, a professor and Yeager’s love interest; and Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton, who is the keeper of the Transformers’ history on Earth.

This newest Transformers film delivers the cool CGI and battle scenes that have made the series so popular. Unfortunately, it also tosses us a confusing and head-spinning plot. The movie opens with a Dark Ages battle in A.D. 400, where we learn that a Transformer gave Merlin a magical staff that helped deliver a battlefield victory. It then jumps to the present day, where Yeager eventually is given a “metallic talisman”—a large alien-looking coin—that carries some significance to the planet Cybertron. Then, everyone chases the staff and the coin thing for the rest of the film, and we’re left wondering … why? And in the middle of all that, the Nazis make an appearance.

Warning: minor spoilers!

Violence/Disturbing Images

Excessive. Transformer films, of course, are known for their sci-fi violence, and The Last Knight is no exception. The robots punch, kick and shoot in scene after scene. They use swords. They use machine guns. They use laser guns. (Even when the robots are destroyed, they sometimes magically reattach.) The opening scene with a Dark Ages battle provides a different type of fighting, with more blood than is typical of a Transformers battle. We even see soldiers, on fire, running around the battlefield. The body count in The Last Knight is quite high.  


Moderate. Vivian’s family, wanting her to marry, jokes about how they want her to meet a man “or woman.” One of them then looks in the classifieds for “women seeking women.” Vivian displays cleavage in a dress and a shirt. When Yeager calls it a “stripper dress,” she says, “If my dress makes you uncomfortable, maybe I should take it off.” Later, she and Yeager talk about how long it’s been since he’s had “whoopee.” When the two of them ransack an upstairs room looking for an historical item, her family downstairs thinks the noises are from something else. Finally, when the metallic talisman crawls down his pants, she suggests they could find out what happened to it. They kiss in the movie’s final scenes.  

Coarse Language

Excessive. I counted about 80 coarse words: sh– (31), a– (13), he– (12), bi–h (9), misuse of “God” (8), da– (4), d–k (2), misuse of “Christ” (1), p-ss (1). Sadly, the movie also shows kids, presumably in junior high, cursing, too.

Life Lessons

Yeager gives us lessons on regret and redemption with his young adult daughter, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. “It looks like to me you’re running out of tomorrows with your daughter,” one of the characters in the film tells him. His daughter leaves voicemails, telling him she loves him; he can’t talk to her for fear of being tracked. Later in the film, he tries to make things right.

There also are lessons on friendship, courage and teamwork.   


It’s a science-fiction universe without the God of the Bible. Optimus Prime finds his creator, a goddess named Quintessa, who demands his obedience (even though they fight). She calls herself the “prime of life.” It’s worth noting that Optimus Prime wants to find out who made him. It seems such natural urges aren’t confided to humans.  


It’s always frustrating when Hollywood takes a kid-friendly idea—say, robotic toys—and turns it into an adult-centric movie. Parents are then left trying to explain to little Billy why he can’t go watch Optimus Prime.

It’s difficult to overlook the language in this one, even if we give it a pass for the mostly bloodless sci-fi violence. It’s not family-friendly.

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

I’m a guy who enjoys action movies with battles, chases and explosions. But it’s best to have an enjoyable plot, too. I really wanted to like this one. It’s simply too confusing and too long. Thumbs down.  

Discussion Questions

1. The movie tells us that “magic does exist.” Does it? What does Scripture say?

2. What did you think of Optimus Prime’s actions during the final scenes?

3. The narrator tells us: “We can be heroes if we only have courage to try.” Is that true?

Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” is rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language and some innuendo. 

Resolutions: The Heart of Southern Baptists in Brief

I first attended the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in 1982, early in the days of the Conservative Resurgence. The next few years saw some of our best-attended and most contentious meetings. In those days, news media from everywhere descended on our meeting sites, trying to figure out who we are and what we’re doing. They mostly failed; we are notoriously hard to understand.

Then and now, the aspect of convention business most comprehensible to non-Baptist observers is the resolutions. It is here that the heart of the messengers is most plainly expressed. The emphasis among outsiders always tends toward topics the reporters already understand: boycotts, political issues, moral outrage and the like. We were often ridiculed for our moralizing, but I’m not embarrassed to have been a part of those votes. Outsiders who would understand Southern Baptists would do well to read the resolutions year by year, even the “boring” ones. Resolutions are our best effort to discern the times, and to address with positive effect needs and trends of our churches and our neighbors. Our 2017 slate of resolutions is a fine example of how our denominational heart is expressed. Consider the 10 resolutions passed during our 2017 meeting in Phoenix.

On Prayer: Here we see a call to personal and corporate devotion. Prayer is recommended as the command of God and the power for our ministry. Baptists are mystics who believe that the invisible Maker of the universe works through the prayers of his people.

On the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: While not Protestants, Baptists are nonetheless children of the revolution of the 16th century. The radical return to biblical authority and salvation by grace through faith caused millions to stumble and millions of believers to rejoice in the centuries that followed. Surprisingly, the theological issues of the 16th century arise in our day.

On the 100th Anniversary of the SBC Executive Committee: This committee is our “decently and in order” body. Our ancestors organized for growth, believing that God can bless those who plan. Southern Baptists are grateful for those who built the foundations of our modern work, and we are reminded of our obligation to future generations who will build on our current efforts.

On University Ministry: Our “comprehensive approach to evangelism and discipleship” must include university campuses. It is here that our culture is most crucially engaged with the gospel. Southern Baptists are on mission for the lost in the most difficult places imaginable.

On the Necessity of Penal Substitutionary Atonement: The most basic elements of Christian doctrine must be reemphasized when some who call themselves Baptist deny them. This resolution cites Scripture 20 times. Baptists know that biblical theology undergirds our missionary work. There is no gospel ministry if we do not know the gospel.

On Defunding Planned Parenthood and On the Sin of Gambling:  The most basic elements of Christian doctrine must be reemphasized when some who call themselves Baptist deny them. This resolution cites Scripture 20 times. Baptists know that biblical theology undergirds our missionary work. There is no gospel ministry if we do not know the gospel. 

On the Importance of Moral Leadership: Some will read this resolution and see a criticism of only those with whom they disagree; but it’s intentionally not written that way. This resolution calls all of us to the high standards of the God who appoints kings, pastors and church members. Southern Baptists are committed to personal holiness, starting with ourselves but reaching outward to the most powerful among us. Because we have a biblical understanding of holy God and fallen man, we know that we are susceptible to temptation. We also know that God is the judge of all men. 

On Appreciation: We always include a resolution thanking the host city and its churches. Writing thank you notes is basic though uncommon courtesy, an expression of gratitude for the way God provides through other people. We roll into town after thousands have prepared the way for us. The work falls heavily on a smaller state convention, like Arizona. Southern Baptists, on our best days, appreciate the kindness and generosity of those who serve us.

On the Anti-Gospel of Alt Right White Supremacy: Another prophetic word but also one that speaks to those within our fellowship who hold racist attitudes. This is a great example of a snapshot of our current year. Issues, even groups, become prominent and in this case, toxic. This is the convention taking a timely stand. Southern Baptists believe, to quote President Steve Gaines, “There is one race, and that is the human race.”

Every year’s slate of resolutions is unique to the convention seated for that meeting, but this year’s slate is not atypical. This report touches the issues of the day, even though those issues may be unique to a particular time. Resolutions are important as a record, not of our actions so much as our denominational mind year by year. Those from inside and outside our fellowship who would ask “What happened at the SBC this year?” will have a pretty good answer if they’ll start by reading the resolutions. 

2017 SBC Resolutions


WHEREAS, Scripture reveals Jesus engaging in prayer on many occasions (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16); and

WHEREAS, The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1); and

WHEREAS, Jesus taught His disciples a model prayer to help them know how to pray (Luke 11:2–4); and

WHEREAS, Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and His future disciples (John 17:1–26); and

WHEREAS, Jesus instructed His disciples that some of the most demanding spiritual work of the church requires prayer (Mark 9:14–29); and

WHEREAS, Fasting is often associated with times of concerted prayer in Scripture (Daniel 10:3; Esther 4:16; Acts 14:21–23); and

WHEREAS, Scripture commands God’s people: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:4); and

WHEREAS, Psalms is primarily a book of prayer; and

WHEREAS, Prayer is the principal means of communicating and communing with God; and

WHEREAS, God answers the prayers of His people in accordance to His will (1 John 5:14–15); and

WHEREAS, Scripture records great acts of God in response to the prayers of His people (1 Kings 18:36–39; Acts 4:23–31); and

WHEREAS, Jesus taught His disciples to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1–5); and

WHEREAS, The apostles considered prayer to be one of their two highest priorities (Acts 6:4); and

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that God works in response to prayer (Matthew 7:7–11; James 5:16); and

WHEREAS, Every great revival has been preceded by God’s people praying; and

WHEREAS, Regular corporate prayer is essential to the life of the local church and regular personal prayer is essential to the life of the believer (Acts 2:42–47; 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18; Philippians 4:4–7); and

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that the chief enemy of the praying believer is Satan (Daniel 10:10–14; Ephesians 6:10–18; 1 Peter 5:8); and

WHEREAS, The theme of the 2017 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages us to “Pray! For Such a Time as This,” and President Steve Gaines called us to fast and pray for the twenty-one days leading up to the annual meeting; and

WHEREAS, Prayer guides and additional resources for prayer are available at; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, confess and repent of any lack of prayer in our own lives and our churches; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we ask God to search our hearts and show us if there is any hindrance in us to His work in and through us for His glory; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit to pray and urge our fellow Southern Baptists to join us in prayer for the next twenty-one days, leading up to July 4th, for God to be merciful to Southern Baptists, empoweringnus anew with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in our communities, states, nation, and world; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on all Southern Baptists to make an ongoing commitment to spend at least fifteen minutes of every day in prayer, to the best of our ability, and to fast as a regular discipline, as we are able, in order to resist the desires of the flesh and focus on the things of the Spirit; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we join together in pleading with God for a great outpouring of His Spirit, leading to a revival of the churches to the end that many millions will come to faith in Jesus, be added to our churches, and dedicate themselves to following His will.


WHEREAS, October 31, 2017, marks the five hundredth anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation with Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany; and

WHEREAS, The Reformation stressed a return to the sufficiency and primacy of Scripture as the supreme guide for faith and practice in the church of Jesus Christ; and

WHEREAS, The Reformation was driven by the biblical conviction that sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone based on Scripture alone to the glory of God alone; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists trace much of their theological heritage to the events, figures, and principles of the Magisterial Reformation and the Radical Reformation; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists particularly value the principles of the Reformation that inspired subsequent generations of Baptists to advocate for the religious liberty of all people; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, express our gratitude to God for the courage and conviction of our Reformation forebears; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves anew to the biblical convictions of the Reformation, calling all people everywhere to personal repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as taught by holy Scripture; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will promote the sufficiency of Scripture, the power of Christ’s grace, and the personal accountability of all humanity before God even as we advocate for the fundamental right of all people to exercise religious liberty; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we will proclaim the priority and preeminence of Christ and His kingdom above all earthly powers to the glory of God alone.


WHEREAS, For its first seven decades, the Southern Baptist Convention carried out its work between annual meetings through numerous ad hoc committees, electing as many as thirty-three committees in a given year; and

WHEREAS, The Convention recognized that such a cumbersome organizational structure was inadequate to accomplish its ministry purposes in the twentieth century; and

WHEREAS, In 1916, a messenger from Texas moved that the Convention “establish one strong Executive Board which shall direct all of the work and enterprises fostered and promoted by this Convention”; and

WHEREAS, Following a year of study, with input from Southern Baptists, many expressing opposition to such centralized power, a proposal was made to establish an Executive Committee with limited authority to help coordinate the Convention’s work; and

WHEREAS, On May 17, 1917, during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting held in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention was created; and

WHEREAS, In 1927, the Convention enlarged the Executive Committee’s scope of duties to include acting ad interim on behalf of the Convention and recommending an operating budget for the Southern Baptist Convention each year and the allocation of Cooperative Program funds to SBC entities; and

WHEREAS, Over the years the Executive Committee shepherded the fledgling Cooperative Program; helped avert a Convention-wide financial crisis in the early twentieth century; initiated Bold Mission Thrust, a campaign adopted by the SBC in 1978 “to enable every person in the world to have the opportunity to hear and to respond to the Gospel of Christ by the year 2000”; led in the adoption of the Covenant for a New Century (1995–1997) with its attendant streamlining of SBC entities; appointed numerous advisory councils to broaden representation and participation of people from numerous ethnic minority and language groups within Convention life; and continues to champion the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our cooperative outreach into the twenty-first century; and

WHEREAS, The SBC Organization Manual states, “The Executive Committee continues to exist to minister to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by acting for the Convention ad interim in all matters not otherwise provided for in a manner that encourages the cooperation and confidence of the churches, associations, and state conventions and facilitates maximum support for worldwide missions and ministries”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, give thanks to God for His providence in the establishment of the Executive Committee one hundred years ago; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we honor the thousands of men and women who have served the Southern Baptist Convention through the “behind the scenes” work of the Executive Committee; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend the Executive Committee for almost a century of promotion of the Cooperative Program and its faithful and continued partnership with Southern Baptist churches, SBC entities, associations, state conventions, ethnic minority fellowships, and other affinity groups; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we encourage the Executive Committee to continue to champion support for the worldwide ministries of the cooperating churches of the Southern Baptist Convention until the day of our Lord’s glorious return.


WHEREAS, Many of the next generation of leaders are being trained on college and university campuses across America; and

WHEREAS, American higher education is becoming increasingly secular, leading to educational systems that are further removed from a biblical worldview; and

WHEREAS, There are millions of students on campuses who, apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, will spend an eternity in hell; and

WHEREAS, University ministry during the twentieth century became influenced by parachurch ministries that did not always connect students to the vital, life-giving work of the local church; and

WHEREAS, Scripture calls us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16–20), including those that come to America for education; and

WHEREAS, Our Lord called us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, necessitating a comprehensive approach to evangelism and discipleship (Matthew 22:34–39); and

WHEREAS, Many secularists and non-Christians unapologetically seek to win the next generation to their worldviews, training them to shed their religious beliefs and embrace an agnostic, atheistic, or non-exclusivistic approach to life and thought; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have historically acted with Gospel urgency and serious financial commitment to reach students on their local campuses through numerous ministry initiatives such as Baptist Collegiate Ministry (currently serving 860 campuses), collegiate ministry resources produced by LifeWay, myMISSION by Woman’s Missionary Union, as well as the more recent Collegiate Church Planting initiative of the North American Mission Board; and

WHEREAS, The moral decay of our culture and the secularization of America compels Southern Baptists to reach college students for Christ; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, recognize the tremendous Gospel opportunity on college campuses across America; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge our fellow Southern Baptists to devote considerable prayer, strategy, and investment in evangelistic and discipleship endeavors by strengthening existing works and increasing the connection between campus ministries and the local church.


WHEREAS, In recent days numerous voices from the Protestant world have boldly attacked the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement; and

WHEREAS, These voices have publicly labeled penal substitution “monstrous,” “evil,” “a terrible doctrine,” and indicative of “the Father murdering a son”; and

WHEREAS, The “anti-violence” model of the cross of Christ weakens the Bible’s teaching by recasting the atonement as a basis for pacifism (in contradiction of Romans 13:4); and

WHEREAS, God is perfect in His holiness (Isaiah 6:3) and perfect in His justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), as He is also perfect in His love (1 John 4:8); and

WHEREAS, On the cross of Christ Jesus the perfect love of God perfectly applies the perfect justice of God to satisfy the perfect holiness of God in order to redeem sinners (Romans 3:26); and

WHEREAS, The denial of penal substitutionary atonement in effect denies the holy and loving God the exercise of His justice, the overflow of which in a sinful world is the outpouring of His just retributive wrath; and

WHEREAS, The denial of penal substitutionary atonement thus displays in effect the denial of the perfect character of the one true God; and

WHEREAS, The denial of penal substitutionary atonement constitutes false teaching that leads the flock astray (Acts 20:28) and leaves the world without a message of a sin-cleansing Savior (Romans 5:6–11); and

WHEREAS, The denial of penal substitutionary atonement necessarily compromises the biblical and historical doctrines of propitiation, expiation, ransom, satisfaction, Christus Victor, Christus Exemplar, and more; and

WHEREAS, The Lord promised a warrior-savior who would crush the head of the serpent to obliterate the enemy (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20; Revelation 19:11–16); and

WHEREAS, The sacrificial system of the Old Testament culminated in the blood sacrifice of a spotless lamb on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:11–19); and

WHEREAS, Jesus Himself unveiled the salvific mission that necessitated His incarnation (Hebrews 2:17) when He said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28); and

WHEREAS, The confession of the Scriptures is that Christ is our passive and active righteousness, forgiving all our sin by His death and imputing to us all His righteousness through faith (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9); and

WHEREAS, An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ called the shed blood of the Savior “precious” (1 Peter 1:19); and

WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” of sin (Hebrews 9:22); and

WHEREAS, Baptist pastor-theologians and scholars with differing soteriological convictions have made the preaching of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ the foundation of their ministry, heralding the Good News all over this world; and

WHEREAS, Countless missionaries and martyrs of the Christian faith have laid down their lives in order to tell fellow sinners about the death of Christ for the wicked, thus obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20); and

WHEREAS, Baptists preach the cross of Christ, sing about the cross, cling to the cross, share the cross, love the cross, and take up their own crosses to follow their Lord, even as the world despises His cross and the proclaimers of His cross; and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message was revised in 2000, incorporating for the first time the language of substitution to make plain what evangelical Baptists have long since preached and believed; and

WHEREAS, Around the throne of God into all eternity, the redeemed from every tribe, tongue, ethnicity, and nation will cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain !” (Revelation 5:12, ESV); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, reaffirm the truthfulness, efficacy, and beauty of the biblical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as the burning core of the Gospel message and the only hope of a fallen race.


WHEREAS, Scripture clearly affirms the sanctity of human life throughout all stages of development (Psalm 139:13–16); and

WHEREAS, God abhors the shedding of innocent blood and requires His people to do all in their power to rescue persons from such acts (Proverbs 6:16–17; 24:11–12); and

WHEREAS, In The Baptist Faith & Message and in many resolutions Southern Baptists have repeatedly affirmed our commitment to the sanctity of human life; and

WHEREAS, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates were responsible for 328,348 abortions in America in fiscal year 2015/16, according to its latest annual report, representing an increase of more than 4,300 abortions from the prior year, making PPFA and its affiliates America’s leading abortionists; and

WHEREAS, Planned Parenthood’s total revenues in fiscal year 2015/16 were $1.354 billion, including $555 million from federal government funding, record highs for both categories, resulting in a profit of $77 million; and

WHEREAS, According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Planned Parenthood’s advocacy and political arms, employees, and family members of employees spent more than $38 million in the last four years to elect political candidates sympathetic with their immoral policy objectives; and

WHEREAS, Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report indicates it performs more abortions than cancer screenings, demonstrating the central role abortion plays in the immoral enterprise of this organization; and

WHEREAS, In July 2015, investigative journalists with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) began releasing a series of undercover videos in which various senior leaders of Planned Parenthood spoke in astonishingly frank, horrific, and euphemistic ways about unborn babies, their use of illegal abortion methods, and their harvesting of tissues and organs of unborn babies to further profit from the practice of abortion; and

WHEREAS, Contrary to claims by Planned Parenthood and its allies that the videos were edited in a manner to portray falsely the participants’ intent, the veracity of the videos has been verified by two different experts, one of whom was commissioned by PPFA; and

WHEREAS, For their efforts in exposing the illegal activities of Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry, leaders of CMP have been subjected to censorship of their videos, politically motivated lawsuits, criminal charges, and continuing legal jeopardy, including being held in contempt of court for recently releasing new undercover videos; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee have each made criminal referrals to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation after each found evidence that Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry may have violated federal law by the use of illegal abortion methods, including late-term, partial-birth, and born-alive abortions, and the procurement of fetal tissue for profit; and

WHEREAS, Although in 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 241–187 to approve H.R. 3134, Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, the legislation has languished and Planned Parenthood continues to receive more than half a billion dollars each year from the federal government; and

WHEREAS, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has made defunding Planned Parenthood one of its ten legislative priorities for 2017; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, reaffirm our absolute commitment to the sanctity of human life; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce the immoral agenda and practices of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates, especially their role in the unjust killing each year of more than 300,000 precious unborn babies, its use of particularly gruesome illegal abortion methods, and its profiteering from harvesting unborn babies’ tissues and organs; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the United States Congress to defund Planned Parenthood immediately and completely of all federal government support and that all state and local government funding that supports Planned Parenthood be withdrawn immediately and permanently; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue criminal charges against Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates for their use of illegal abortion methods, trafficking in and profiting from the harvesting of unborn babies’ tissues and organs, and any other actions that may be in violation of federal law; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention for prioritizing in its 2017 legislative agenda the defunding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and encourage the Commission to distribute this resolution to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, and all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, imploring their immediate attention to this urgent matter.


WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has a long history of opposing gambling in its various forms, such as casinos, lotteries, racing, and other gambling schemes; and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of neighbor-love, necessitating the financial loss and harm of many for the gain of a few, enjoying entertainment at the expense of others (Exodus 20:17; 22:21; Leviticus 25:17; Deuteronomy 22:1–4; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:8–10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of lordship, tempting individuals to trust chance rather than God, who provides for the needs of “the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45; 6:24; Philippians 4:18–19; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 9:8–12; Colossians 3:17; 1 Timothy 6:17–18); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of work, looking to gain something for nothing, hoping for easy money rather than pursuing responsible industry, investment, and labor (Genesis 1:28; Exodus 20:9; Psalm 104:23; 128:2; Ecclesiastes 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–12); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of the civil magistrate, causing governments to prey on their own citizens through state-sponsored gambling rather than protecting them and seeking their good (Proverbs 8:15–16; Amos 5:10–13; Romans 13:4; 1 Timothy 2:1–2; 1 Peter 2:13–15); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of contentment, enticing individuals to greed and covetousness in the hope that in winning, others will lose financially (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Luke 12:15; Romans 7:7–8; Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:9–10; Hebrews 13:5); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of stewardship, encouraging reckless and careless speculation with resources entrusted by the Lord while disregarding the same Lord who provides for all human needs (Matthew 6:19–34; 1 Timothy 6:17–18; 1 Peter 4:1–11); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of the Golden Rule, attempting to do to others what you do not want them to do to you (Matthew 7:12); and

WHEREAS, Gambling violates the principle of freedom, inciting destructive desires and enslaving many to habits that lead to financial ruin and broken relationships (Galatians 5:13–21); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, condemn gambling in all its forms; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge our leaders at all levels of government to end state-sponsored gambling, to curtail all forms of destructive gambling, and to address its harmful effects through policy and legislation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage our Convention leaders, entities, and pastors to continue to educate Southern Baptists on the deceptive sin of gambling; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge our fellow Southern Baptists and all other followers of Christ not to participate in the sin of gambling.


WHEREAS, Scripture declares, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message says, “Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love”; and

WHEREAS, Current attitudes and practices in some segments of American life in such important areas as sex, marriage, money, and power reveal that American society is in moral decline; and

WHEREAS, God judges or blesses nations based on their morality (Genesis 6:5–13; Jonah 1:1–2; Micah 6:8); and

WHEREAS, God’s Word provides guidance for living a moral life that pleases God and brings His blessing (Proverbs 3:1–8); and

WHEREAS, Leaders in every walk of life in America, such as church, government, and business, have destroyed their careers and brought shame to themselves, their families, and friends because of poor moral choices; and

WHEREAS, Regardless of their political, social, or economic status, our leaders should set a positive example for every American citizen by living and serving according to the highest moral and ethical standards; and

WHEREAS, The church has the responsibility in every season to proclaim to the culture the moral standards of God as revealed in His Word, not as legalists but as advocates of Christ’s transformative grace (Matthew 5:13–16; Mark 6:18; 2 Timothy 4:1-5); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, express our appreciation to those leaders in all walks of life who have chosen to live according to God’s moral standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our gratitude and support for those public officials who have displayed consistent moral character and uncompromising commitment to biblical principles of right and wrong, resulting in blessing upon the people they serve; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouses in order to ensure that they leave no room for temptation to lead them astray and to avoid any suspicion of wrongdoing (Proverbs 4:23–27); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on all leaders in every walk of life to conduct themselves, to the best of their ability, according to the moral standards set forth by God’s revealed truth; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit to pray for our nation’s leaders to be able to resist every temptation that would create a hindrance to the fulfillment of their calling in society; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we pledge to hold ourselves to the same high moral standards that we require of our leaders; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit to pray that God will help us and all our fellow citizens to embrace the biblical moral values that will honor our creation in God’s image and bring God’s blessing on our nation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will endeavor to serve as examples to others of the blessings of living in accordance with God’s moral guidance; and be it further

RESOLVED, That in order “to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love,” we commit to “be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising [our] loyalty to Christ and His truth” (The Baptist Faith and Message); and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm, “Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ” (The Baptist Faith and Message).


WHEREAS, The messengers to the 160th session of the Southern Baptist Convention are enjoying a time of worship, encouragement, and fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ; and

WHEREAS, We acknowledge God’s providence in all these blessings; and

WHEREAS, We also acknowledge the kind hospitality of the people of Phoenix, Arizona; and

WHEREAS, We further acknowledge our local Southern Baptist churches, associational leaders, staff of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, SBC committees, staffs of SBC entities, and hundreds of volunteers from the Phoenix area who have worked so diligently to make our stay a pleasant one; and

WHEREAS, We especially acknowledge the Lord’s grace in enabling our SBC president, officers, various committees, musicians, and other platform personnel to conduct the affairs of this Convention with dignity and a Christ-like spirit; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, express our profound gratitude to the Lord and to all those through whom He is working to bring about an annual meeting characterized by prayer, grace, evangelism, worship, encouragement, cooperation, and purpose.


WHEREAS, Scripture teaches, “From one man [God] has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, The Psalmist proclaimed, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD” (Psalm 24:1); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Peter said, “God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34–35); and

WHEREAS, Our justification before God is based on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not in our ethnicity (Galatians 3:27–28); and

WHEREAS, Scripture proclaims that Jesus is purchasing by His blood believers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9); and

WHEREAS, Throughout eternity we will gather with a “multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” in worship of our risen Savior (Revelation 7:9); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message conveys that all Christians are obligated to make the will of Christ supreme in their own lives and in human society, opposing all forms of racism, selfishness, and vice, and bringing government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love; and

WHEREAS, We know from our Southern Baptist history the effects of the horrific sins of racism and hatred; and

WHEREAS, In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention repudiated “historic acts of evil, such as slavery,” committed “to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry,” and “genuinely repent[ed] of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously”; and

WHEREAS, In recent years the Convention has nominated and elected individuals from a variety of ethnicities, including electing our first African-American president in 2012; and

WHEREAS, In recent resolutions the Southern Baptist Convention called on “all Christian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prejudice and injustice will be no more” (2014); expressed continued grief “over the presence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nat

SBC Pastors’ Conference: Barber calls for more peacemakers in Southern Baptist Churches

PHOENIX  Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, delivered a message from Philippians 4:2-9, calling for God to raise up more peacemakers in Southern Baptist Churches. His sermon was part of a sermon series through the book of Philippians at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in the Phoenix Convention Center, June 12.

Noting that the entire letter to the Philippians speaks to the value of gospel partnerships, Barber said, “There are two ways that you can lose partnership in the gospel. One way is to lose the gospel. … But even if you retain the truth of Scripture and the authority of Scripture and the reality of the gospel, you can still lose a partnership for the gospel if you fail to protect the spirit of partnership that enables people to cooperate for the cause of the gospel.”

In this passage, Paul names people in the church who were causing problems, and he calls out the peacemakers in the church to bring reconciliation.

Using the illustration of white blood cells in the body that stand ready to fight infection, Barber said, “God created the body of Christ to expect that there would be conflict in the body of Christ. … And He planned for that by designing the church to contain an army of peacemakers who will wait around and watch for that moment when partnership for the gospel is in jeopardy and will rush in and protect the partnership of the gospel from the threat.”

He explained that much of the conflict in Southern Baptist churches is not simply because of the presence of conflict but rather because of the absence of peacemakers. Deacons, he said, have a biblical responsibility to be lead peacemakers in the congregation.

“I believe that we are witnessing the slow, terrifying demise of the office of deacon within our churches,” he said. “I’m not saying that all of the peacemakers in your church have to be deacons, but I am saying that all the deacons in your church need to be peacemakers.”


Barber acknowledged that many churches have deacons that are more troublemakers than peacemakers “because peacemaking is hard work.”

“But when there are bad pastors, we don’t abandon the office of pastor, we reform it. And I believe there’s a need today for reformation in the office of deacon in Baptist churches, that we might recover God’s design of health for us and might be able to raise up peacemakers.”

Barber said if pastors are going to call people to be peacemakers in the church, then they are going to have to train them how to do it effectively. In the passage, he said, Paul spends one sentence addressing the problem and then the rest of the passage training in how to be peacemakers.

Peacemakers must be trained to resolve conflict in the church by making others’ business their own.

“The lie straight from hell that plagues our churches is that we think if we’re going to be mannerly, we can’t make anybody’s business ours,” Barber said. “We see trouble in church, and we say, ‘Y’all take care of that. Good luck.’” But, he said, Paul challenges the church in Philippi to step in and help bring harmony in the body of Christ.

Peacemakers must also be prepared for the emotional difficulties that come with peacemaking.

“But God has given us defenses against these emotions that make peacemaking so hard,” Barber said. “Against discouragement, we can rejoice. … We should replace worry with prayer, and if we do that, it says ‘the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind.’”

Third, he said, peacemakers must be trained in their thinking, including things that are true, just, honorable, excellent and praiseworthy as well as thinking well about the people involved in the conflict.

“Too often in conflict, the first thing that happens is people pressure you to choose sides, and once the sides have been chosen, it is only good that is spoken of our side and it is only evil that is spoken of the other side. Here, Paul calls those who are peacemakers to be people who try hard, who deliberately and purposely dwell on and think about the best of everyone on both sides, who look for good things to say about everyone on all sides so that they might be able to make peace.”

Finally, Barber said, pastors must set the example of peacemaking. Referencing denominational life, he said pastors have great opportunities to model the pattern of peacemaking. He used the illustration of Fannie Heck and Annie Armstrong, leaders of the Women’s Missionary Union during its greatest days of growth but who also hated one another. Denominational leaders and the WMU’s board stepped in as peacemakers, calling the two women to reconcile in order to protect the partnership in the gospel and the mission of Christ.

“Oh, friends, our churches perish for a lack of peacemakers,” Barber pleaded. “Our marriages fall apart because Christians gather around and instead of telling us to work things out, they tell us that we can just bust things up. Institutions struggle because of the problems we have with conflict.

“But the beauty of peacemaking is that it’s something that Christ has promised will receive a blessing—blessed are the peacemakers.”

Barber admitted that as a blogger, he has made trouble, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. “But sometimes, I make peace. And I never make peace when I’m not trying to.

“I would encourage all of you to pray and ask Jesus to make you a peacemaker and equip you to do it.”

Watch a full version of Barber’s sermon here.