Month: August 2017

Financial stewardship is a heart matter, panel says

PHOENIX—Good financial stewardship stems from a right relationship with God, and the Bible has plenty to say about managing God’s resources God’s way, a group of pastors said during the President’s Panel on Stewardship June 14 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.

Led by SBC President Steve Gaines, the panel consisted of Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; Jordan Easley, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn.; Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.; Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; and Chris Brown of Ramsey Solutions in Nashville, Tenn.

In a culture where the average American spends $1.26 for every dollar earned and 70 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, the church must teach God’s way of handling money because Americans will naturally gravitate toward the world’s way, Brown said.

“The world is doing a great job of teaching their way,” Brown said, adding that God’s way is based on gratitude while the world’s way is tied to entitlement.

Stewardship is about lordship, Dilbeck said, “so when people are struggling with stewardship, there is that sense of a deeper issue about lordship.” He noted that the Apostle Paul teaching on financial stewardship in 2 Corinthians points to the cross.

“He doesn’t talk about money,” Dilbeck said. “He talks to them about what Jesus has done for us on the cross and how we owe him everything. Oftentimes, I find that people who are struggling with financial stewardship have never really gotten ahold of the lordship of Christ—him owning everything.”

Williams said he considers believers God’s trustees, and each year he leads his church in a series on stewardship. “Many times people’s hearts are right in their wallets, in their pocketbooks,” Williams said. “I figure if you get the heart, you’ve got the wallet.”

One way to preach about stewardship unashamedly, Floyd said, is to encourage believers through personal testimony. Tell the story of how God impacts individual lives through giving, he said. “It’s grounded in the doctrine of God, that God owns absolutely everything and I own absolutely nothing,” Floyd said.

Easley said that if the Word of God addresses it, the preacher of God’s Word ought to address it. “There’s a lot of things we’d love to avoid, but this is one of those things that I believe as shepherds of hearts we have to teach people how to express love to the Lord,” Easley said. “I believe that giving is attached to the expression of love.”

Page said there’s a fear today based on people saying, “All the church wants is our money.” This can cause pastors, he noted, to shrink back from addressing financial stewardship. But Page uses Scripture to teach people what Jesus said about money, and he tries to get them to understand that he’s not trying to get their money but to help them be free.

“When you start doing what God says, you’re going to experience financial freedom because God’s going to be able to take [your finances] farther than what you were doing with whatever it was you were keeping,” Page said.

Dilbeck said some people have lived so long under the pressure of debt that they’ve come to embrace it as a normal way of life.

“They don’t understand the burden, the way it affects a woman’s sense of security in the home, a man’s sense of respect, and that struggle starts moving to the core,” Dilbeck said. “Some of it is helping people understand there is a different way. They don’t have to live the way the rest of the world is living.”

Tithing is a learned spiritual discipline, Dilbeck said, such as prayer, worship and sharing the gospel. “When a child learns to tithe, they’re learning to order their financial life. It’s one of the best things we can do for a young person as we raise them up,” Dilbeck said.

Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., said his children remember him tearing up credit card applications that would come in the mail.

“Just because they say you qualify doesn’t mean you qualify,” Gaines said. “… If you mortgage the future to pay for the present, you’re in a lot of trouble.”

Page said he grew up in a poor home and was humiliated by calls from debt collectors as a child. He taught his daughters to live by the 80-10-10 principle, which means giving the first tenth of the income to God, saving another tenth and living on 80 percent.

Hixson named SBTC missions director, Pruitt moves to evangelism director

GRAPEVINE—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board called Doug Hixson of Spearfish, S.D., to serve as the new director of missions and approved a proposed a $28.8 million operating budget for 2018 during its Aug. 15 meeting in Grapevine.

After two years of leading the missions department, Shane Pruitt becomes the director of evangelism, filling a vacancy created by the departure of Nathan Lorick to lead the Colorado Baptist General Convention.

Hixson, 46, is the founding pastor of Connection Church, which he began as a home Bible study in 2010. Now averaging more than 200 people in attendance each week, the South Dakota church has baptized more than 60 people since its launch and planted three other churches in the state.

He also served as president of both the Dakotas Baptist Convention and their Pastors’ Conference, having been a member of their Executive Board, and has been active in his local Baptist association and disaster relief ministry.

While in Texas, Hixson pastored Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pampa and served as missions and small groups minister at Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie.

“Not only was he a successful church planter, but in a very hard area to plant churches he devised a church planting system and three churches have grown out of that,” stated SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards. “He has proven himself to be a kind of networker, church planting strategist and successful church planter himself so that I felt deeply impressed that Doug Hixson was our man to continue the work Shane has done in these areas.”

Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, said in a reference letter that Hixson had “impacted hundreds of lives for the kingdom by faithfully carrying out the role of pastor, teacher, missional leader and community advocate.”

SBTC President Nathan Lino said Hixson knows the culture of the SBTC as a former Executive Board member. “His doctrine and passion for missions are a strong match for our organization. He has an extraordinary passion for evangelism and missions,” he said, describing Hixson as “not only passionate about planting a church, but the conversion of lost souls.”

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell praised Hixson’s character and integrity, adding that he “motivates leaders and laity to excel and to reach their full potential.”

Hixson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies with a minor in communications from Ouachita Baptist University. In 2004 he earned the Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Dana, and they have two children, Benjamin and Adyson.

In describing his philosophy of ministry, Hixson told the Executive Committee that his foremost objective is evangelism, both personally and in the local church. Calling Matt. 28:19-20 the pattern for ministry, Hixson described the priority of discipleship. “My life goal is to lead people to a relationships with Jesus Christ, disciple them in their walk and help them find an area of ministry where they feel they can use the gifts that God has uniquely given them to reach people.”

Hixson said the methods of reaching people will change, but the message of the Bible can never be compromised. “I build my beliefs solely on the unchanging, inerrant, immutable Word of God.”

Following an Acts 1:8 model of working locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, Hixson said, “God has not only called the churches of the SBC to cooperate on a regular basis by supporting our home and international missionary efforts, but he has also called us to be actively involved on the local church level.”

The Board also approved a recommended budget for 2018 of $28,880,178 that requires approval of SBTC messengers during the convention’s annual meeting at Criswell College in Dallas, Nov. 13-14. The proposal reflects a 2.56 percent increase over the previous year and includes a $100,000 increase in church planting and $150,000 increase in church revitalization.

Board members considered a recommendation from the administration committee to discontinue a long-standing “matching benefit” that contributes $17.50 per month into the retirement account of qualified recipients serving SBTC affiliated churches. Chris Moody of Beaumont spoke in favor of keeping the benefit, saying it “creates partnership and ownership with young pastors.”

The $450,000 line item requires $1 million in Cooperative Program dollars as those undesignated funds are divided 55 percent for SBC causes and 45 percent for in-state use. With three years of CP decline, the committee sought to tighten expenses for the coming year. Through the end of June, Cooperative Program receipts were $13,603,332—slightly below the $13,753,217 given through June of 2016.

“Maybe the answer is let’s go get more Cooperative Program dollars so we have the resources to do what we’re called to do,” interjected David Fleming of Houston. “I hate to have to choose between good things. Let’s fund it.”

Eric Shinn of Houston agreed, referring to an earlier motion in which the Board agreed to voluntarily encourage affiliated churches to participate in or increase CP giving. “You’re asking us to create awareness so why not trust that all of us will do our part, and we can come up with $1 million more for the incoming budget?”

The Board unanimously voted to continue the benefit for ministry staff members only, a net impact of about $100,000 on the 2018 in-state budget, and increased the minimal CP contribution by churches to $500 per participant per year.

Funding grants approved from reserves will cover the cost of enabling interface between SBTC’s database and event registration system, initiatives related to celebration of the convention’s 20th anniversary in 2018, and providing a reception, exhibit booth and Pastors’ Conference sponsorship at next year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas. A grant of $125,000 to help with this year’s health insurance premium costs was extended into 2018 and beyond as needed.

The Board voted to revise the Policy on Ministry Relationships with the intent of making the categories more distinct. “Affiliated” agreements will be limited to educational institutions and family services ministries and has no impact on any of the convention’s current affiliated ministries—two colleges and a children’s home.

The second category of relationships, now called “fraternal,” will be limited to fellowships and other groups that are not institutions or commercial enterprises. Two of the convention’s current relationships, Houston Baptist University and the Baptist Credit Union, would no longer qualify under the new terms when the policy takes effect in 2018. HBU, as an educational institution can, under the new policy, apply for an affiliated agreement—a close relationship that includes agreement that the institution will work within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Giving through mission offerings by SBTC churches showed small decreases over the previous year. One month into the reporting year, the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions received $91,725, down from $99,853 for the same period last year.

The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions, with nine months reporting, amounted to $2.54 million, a decrease of $59,948 from a year ago. Reach Texas giving hit $1.3 million for the first 10 months, down $6,340 from the previous year.

The Board approved affiliation requests from 27 churches, bringing the total number of affiliated churches to 2,637. Thirteen churches that have disbanded, three that merged with other congregations, three that no longer wish to affiliate and one operating outside the bounds of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 were removed.

Jack Pogue, founder of the W. A. Criswell sermon library, was chosen as recipient of the 2017 H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award during the SBTC annual meeting. The Board also heard reports from three affiliated ministries—Texas Baptist Home for Children, Jacksonville College and Criswell College.

In response to a motion asking SBTC to explore the use of video venue locations to allow full participation in the annual meeting, the Executive Committee projected costs exceeding $80,000 for each remote location. Due to the functional complexity and potential technical issues that could prevent messengers from conducting business, the Board chose not to pursue the idea.

Juan Sanchez to be nominated as SBTC president

GRAPEVINE—Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, will be nominated as president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention at the annual meeting in Dallas, Nov. 13-14. Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pflugerville, will nominate Sanchez, who has served the past two years as secretary of the convention.

Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Florida with his family at 8 years old. He confessed Christ as savior as a teenager in 1983. 

Sanchez has been pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church since 2005 and has also served churches in Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Texas. In 2016, High Pointe gave $50,202.35 through the SBTC to Southern Baptist causes, including $19,708.97 through the Cooperative Program. The church also planted Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park with assistance from the SBTC church planting department.

Sanchez holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Florida as well as a M.Div., Th.M. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He is a council member of The Gospel Coalition and cofounder and president of Coalición.

EQUIP: Effective small group ministry can breathe life into churches, Fleming says

HOUSTON—“Jesus had a small group strategy. Do you?” David Fleming asked a crowd of nearly 1,400 pastors and lay leaders at the 2017 SBTC EQUIP Conference, hosted by Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Aug. 12. Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist, gave the conference keynote address, encouraging churches to see effective small group ministry as a “silver bullet” for church growth and discipleship.

“How can we breathe new life into the most comprehensive, organized structure for discipleship, evangelism, ministry, fellowship, service?”  Fleming asked.

Fleming explained from Mark 3:13 that small group ministry is not a new idea, but a very old one. Jesus gathered a small group of men who would be with him so he could send them out to do ministry. Likewise, Fleming said, churches should value small groups—whether they call them Sunday School, life groups, or whatever—as an organized system with powerful spiritual benefits, including community, accountability, discipleship, ministry, mobilization and leadership development.

Regardless of church size, Fleming said, Christians need to connect with other believers. “We are only as strong as the connections we make,” he said.

Additionally, he explained, “We become like the people we associate with,” acknowledging the discipleship and spiritual growth opportunities through small groups. For this reason, the Bible must be at the center of small group ministry.

Small groups also equip and encourage church members to take responsibility for ministry and service as well as mobilize them for missions, Fleming said. They also provide opportunities for mentoring and training up future leaders.

“Sunday School is not an organization of the church,” he said. “Your Sunday School is your church organized to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Following the opening keynote session, conference participants from more than 160 churches dispersed to breakout sessions on topics related to children’s ministry, adult Sunday School, discipleship, worship, family ministry, men’s and women’s ministry, pastoral ministry, leadership, and more. Sessions were also dedicated to equip Hispanic, Asian and black congregations. Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, attendees chose four breakouts from a list of more than 250 options, led by 73 trainers.

Jeremy Bradshaw, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Bridge City, brought 10 people from his church.

“EQUIP was a tremendous resource for me, but also for the church staff and volunteers who came with me,” Bradshaw said. “It was the fusion of practical training and spiritual renewal that we needed to continue our mission as a church. Everything was first-rate for minimal expense on our end. It was also an encouragement for my church members to see our Cooperative Program support coming back to strengthen the local church.”

Next year’s EQUIP conference will be Aug. 11, 2018 at North Richland Hills Baptist Church. For more information, stay tuned to

Boys camp provides hands-on skills, spiritual mentorship

NEWTON  Churches must shape the young boys of today into the godly leaders of tomorrow. For this reason, around 120 boys entering first through seventh grades gathered at East Texas Baptist Encampment in Newton June 11-15 for the fourth annual Boys Camp.

“It is a life application and skills camp, where there are things from welding, forging, changing tires, mechanical work, wood working, and more that they can carry home with them and start using those skills,” said Jason Glenn, boys camp director and pastor of Call Junction Baptist Church. “We disciple them with life applications so they can relate these things in order to grow in Christ.”

Glenn said the camp was started to grow adult men in churches as leaders by creating opportunities for evangelistic and mentoring relationships to form between the men and boys in their churches. 

“I remember growing up and the mindset I had toward Christian men, and at no fault of their own, they were standoffish,” he said. “A lot of times in my generation, as a kid, we saw ladies taking leadership roles in the churches where men should have been taking that role.”

Alex Rodriguez, a camp counselor, said he enjoys being able to help out and set an example for the boys.

“I like to see these boys form a passion for different life skills while also learning about the love of Jesus Christ,” Rodriguez told the TEXAN.

One memorable spiritual application was taught through the inner workings of a turbo engine, and the devotion was followed by a visual representation of a truck burnout on the basketball court.

The purpose of the turbo engine lesson was to help the boys understand that if Christians crucify the flesh and allow God to give them a clean heart, good things will come out of allowing Christ to change them, Glenn explained.

“Everybody at this camp has the same vision, which is to spread the gospel and the love of Christ with all the students who come,” Glenn said. “Not many camps are going to let you put a truck up on the basketball court and do a burnout, but everybody is working in harmony toward a common goal.”

This year’s camp theme was “Overflow” with the camp verse being Luke 6:45: “A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”

“We are learning about the good and bad people of the world and that if you let Jesus into your heart that you will become good,” 11-year-old camper Garret Cruse said.

Glenn said that everything they are working on is to point them to grow and allow Christ to expand inside of them so they can share him with others when they go out into their communities.

“These men that are working with them are godly men, so whether the boys are standing off or they are really working hard, they can be encouraged in whatever way that they need to be ministered to, these men can do so,” he said.  

Hispanic conf. aims to reach men of all ages

GLEN ROSE Hispanic church leaders, laymen and students will gather for Hombres de Impacto at Riverbend Retreat Center in Glen Rose, Oct. 27-28. Heriberto Hermosillo, pastor of Semilla de Mostaza in McAllen, will be the featured speaker.

The theme of this year’s men’s ministry conference is “Words of Life,” based on Psalm 19:7-10. SBTC Hispanic Ministries Associate Jesse Contreras outlined the breakout sessions on characteristics of a soldier of God; addressing the importance of Scripture, prayer and sacrifice; avoiding temptation; and achieving victory in Christ. 

“We live in a very tumultuous world and there are many oppositions to the cause of Christ,” he told the TEXAN, “so this is a time for men to get together to be encouraged and realize they are not alone in this battle.”

With young men who are 15 years of age and older invited to participate, the conference will feature a specific track for youth on Saturday offered in English. 

The conference gets underway with a dinner at 7 p.m. on Friday prepared by the SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers. A soccer tournament for participating churches starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday as the closing event.

Further details are available online at or by calling 817-552-2500. Churches are encouraged to register by Oct. 17 at a cost of $70 per person. 

When White Supremacists Come to Town

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—I live in Charlottesville, Va. You may have heard of it.

You may have seen my city on the news or on your Twitter feed after several white nationalist and white supremacist groups converged on our downtown park to protest the potential removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

You likely have seen the images of confederate flags and swastikas, protesters and counter-protesters, fistfights and arrests, and videos of carnage. I have watched the evil of white supremacy playing out on my local library steps and hate on a street I’ve driven hundreds of times. My family is weeping in lament to learn that protesters have wielded clubs and even a car against other human beings, fueled by their ideology.

As a citizen of Charlottesville, I want to publicly state my disgust and condemnation of the rally that occurred to champion white supremacy.

Aside from condemnation of their ideology, my husband and I and our church simply will not give them our attention. And we will also not be one-day activists who aren’t interested in faithful, gritty work in this community.

We will instead be Christians. We will continue to give the gospel issue of racial division our full attention. We will call white supremacy what it is: sin. We will continue building real relationships with brothers and sisters in our community and in our own church who represent, alongside us, the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom. We will continue partnering with our friends of various races as we seek to meet needs in our city.  And my husband will preach the gospel from the pulpit as it’s meant to be preached—for all people.

This is the gospel that has made me a Christian, the gospel that tells me all are made in the image of God but only One stands supreme—Jesus Christ. He teaches me to love others, not celebrate myself or fight for my rights, not love selectively or with favoritism. He teaches me to try to understand others and to honor them, not to honor myself. He teaches me that his kingdom is the people to which I belong and that this kingdom is formed by every nation and people group.

We need Christians being Christians not only in Charlottesville but all across our nation. Being a Christian in the face of racial hatred begins with Christ’s church falling to its knees in lament and confession and asking for his Spirit to move us toward him and toward one another. May we do this corporately as we gather. Help us, Lord, to understand our union with you and with all who are yours! Help us to love our enemies, those who spew hatred, and remember they need your grace just as we do.

It’s time for us to stop believing and repeating the worn phrase that we’ve moved beyond racism because we’ve moved beyond Jim Crow. If Charlottesville shows us anything, it begs us to see reality. We have failed one another in so many ways, some have ignored what they haven’t wanted to see, some among us are disheartened and weary from ongoing injustice, but our God offers us repentance and restoration, both individually and collectively, as we acknowledge our racial sins before him and before one another.

Let me acknowledge mine to you. I have received benefit from educational, social and economic systems that I’ve assumed all could enjoy if they simply worked hard enough for it. I have lived ignorantly, failing to understand that my reality is not the reality of others and shrugging it off when some have tried to explain otherwise. I have not called out racist jokes or words for what they are.

I have desired a multiethnic church while also expecting people of different races to adjust to my preferences for church expression. I have not spoken up about injustice, I have not tried to understand different perspectives, and I have been fearful of those who are different than me.

But, praise God, He does not leave us in our sin. Praise God that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion. He has convicted and is changing me. He is teaching me through his people, and I want more of his transforming work.

I want this for the church as well, which is why I share: because God is able! He is able to make us tender toward others rather than angry and embittered.

I do, however, think of Jesus’ words to the crippled man who’d lay beside the pool for many years: “Do you want to be healed?” That seems a curious question, but I hear what Jesus is saying. Sometimes we are too content in our sickness. We don’t want the healing because we don’t want to have to really look at ourselves, confess, repentant or forgive. We don’t want to be uncomfortable; we just want Jesus to fix it.

I want us to live fully in the picture of what the gospel is and can do, specifically in the area of racial hostility and division. “For he himself is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-15).

Church, we have hope to hold out, both for the white supremacist fighting from a place of anger and fear and for the victim of his hatred. We can have peace! We must not just believe this in theory, but we must show it and speak it in our relationships and our communities! Only as we humbly submit to his Spirit and to one another can this be so.

So let us lament the state of things. Let us confess what are some of the most uncomfortable things to talk about with one another: racial sins.

Let us hear how we’ve hurt one another and really listen, believing what our brothers and sisters are saying to us.

Let us pray for the hurting, including those whom we consider enemies.

Let us pursue and engage others of different races so that this listening and confession, restoration and forgiveness can actually happen.

Let us serve together and stand together in our communities so that those who aren’t in Christ may know us and know him by our love for one another.

I’m sorry for the hurt and pain this rally has caused my brothers and sisters of color. It comes as one in a long line of pains, so I am praying for your perseverance, and I look forward with you to the day when all injustices will be made right. May the church be vocal in standing with you and denouncing white supremacy as evil.

Please know that there are faithful Christians trying to bridge the racial gap here in Charlottesville. People are trying to do something meaningful, which we believe is primarily building real-life, everyday relationships and having important conversations at that level.

By the power of the Spirit, my hope is to be one of those people. Please pray for us in our city as we seek to love, understand, address, confess and forgive.

Will you join us? In whatever places you live as a Christian, let us fall to our knees in lament, let us cry out for healing from the only place it can come, and then rise up with a weapon far greater than clubs and shields. Rise up and go with the pursuing, reconciling love of Christ!

Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mom and author of “From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness gospel” and “The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart.” This article is adapted from her website, She and her husband Kyle serve at Charlottesville Community Church in Charlottesville, Va.

Local churches reach men with the gospel through Man Church

LONGVIEW Just a couple of years ago, Brian Sizemore wouldn’t have dreamed of leading a Sunday school class, much less a roomful of young married couples trying to build their homes around their faith in Jesus Christ.

Neither would Wes Moyers have thought he’d be leading a Sunday night home fellowship group, helping fellow church members chew on the message their pastor preached that morning through discussion and Bible study.

Both men credit Holy Spirit-inspired moments of clarity from God’s Word delivered at something called ManChurchETX (ETX stands for East Texas) for spurring them to take unprecedented steps to follow Jesus. 

They are far from alone in profiting spiritually from the bimonthly worship gatherings held at rotating church venues in the Longview area.

Since ManChurchETX was launched more than two years ago at Joy Baptist Church in Gladewater, more than 100 men in a handful of nearby towns have received Christ as Savior; many more have committed themselves to biblical discipleship and greater ministry involvement in their local churches.

Sizemore and Moyers were both saved prior to participating in ManChurchETX, but neither man was emulating Jesus all that closely at work and, more importantly, in their homes. 

Sizemore, a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in White Oak for eight years, says he is much more involved in his church than before, and he has a new understanding what it means to be a real man.

“I was raised in a tough, stern kind of way,” Sizemore told the TEXAN. “Those are good qualities to an extent, but I realized that being a godly man for me meant I needed to be more loving and caring to those around me, to my wife and kids especially. I needed to lead in being a biblical man. It’s been an eye-opening experience.”

I realized that being a godly man for me meant I needed to be more loving and caring to those around me, to my wife and kids especially. I needed to lead in being a biblical man. It’s been an eye-opening experience.”

—Brian Sizemore

A few months after coming to some of these realizations, Sizemore said he felt a strong leading to begin teaching a young marrieds Bible study at his church. He also realized following Jesus and leading by example meant he had to provide servant leadership in his home and be the catalyst for prayer and spiritual conversation in his family.

Wes Moyers of Joy Baptist Church in Gladewater said he was moved by a message from Shane Pruitt, SBTC missions director, who during a ManChurchETX gathering in 2016 encouraged the men to continue building on what God had started, reminding them that a movement of God cannot be stopped.

“It really resonated with our men’s group,” Moyers recalled. Soon, Moyers was seeking God’s direction on how he could grow in his faith and serve fellow church members. He ended up volunteering to lead a home group fellowship. He said his wife, Katherine, is reaping the benefits of deeper relationships at church by hosting the group in their home.

“She’s growing right along with me,” Moyers said.

Additionally, Moyers saw one of his younger brothers receive Christ at the first ManChurchETX meeting more than two years ago. 

Teddy Sorrells, the pastor who had the vision for ManChurchETX and whose church, Joy Baptist, hosted the first meeting, says he was motivated largely by his friendship with the man who led him to Christ years earlier, the late Chris Rodgers.

Rodgers, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the months before ManChurchETX was birthed, was a consistent witness for Christ who wanted his legacy to be leading men to the Savior.

With only a few months to live, Rodgers spoke at the first ManChurch meeting, sharing with the men his journey through addictions and false concepts of manhood before his conversion and call to become a pastor. 

“Teddy,” Rodgers told Sorrells, “I just want to show men what it means to finish strong.”

Sorrells, likewise, says ManChurchETX in many ways reflects what Rodgers wanted to do.

During a typical ManChurch, the men eat “man food,” followed by a worship band leading in music that appeals to men, and then a straightforward Bible-focused message that challenges the Christian men there and extends the offer of the gospel to the unconverted.  

The first meeting more than two years ago drew 80 men. These days, between 200 and 250 men will show up. 

“At every event,” Sorrells said, “men are being saved, men are repenting of sin, and chains are being broken.”

Chad Richardson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist in White Oak, said he has seen the fruit of ManChurchETX in his own church.

“The great thing about ManChurch,” Richardson said, “is they are able to speak to a man the way men need to be spoken to on a range of issues: sexual purity, a man’s marriage, fatherhood, just general living for Jesus kinds of messages.

“The overall central theme is that Jesus is the answer to whatever problem you face, and guys are responding to that awesome call of Christ in their lives.”

ManChurch is not unique to the Longview area. Different variations of the concept are held in churches elsewhere, a few using the ManChurch moniker.

But Sorrells is hoping more churches around Texas will capture the vision of bringing the message of the cross to guys in a man-friendly environment.

Two decades ago, the Promise Keepers movement was successful in engaging men in large stadium events, but no large-scale revival or awakening occurred. Sorrells is praying that God might spark true revival and awakening in a movement of godly men, but this time driven by local churches rather than large parachurch groups.

“Promise Keepers tried, but it was top down,” Sorrells said. “This is a bottom-up effort involving local churches. These men are discipling the men they are bringing to Christ.”

For more information, visit

Together at the Feet of Jesus

In 1968, as I entered my sophomore year at Wossman High School in Monroe, Louisiana, three African-American teenagers enrolled to attend classes. Within two years, an African-American school in the city was closed, and the students were sent to predominately white schools. Wossman went from zero African-Americans to forty percent in these desegregation efforts, and racial tensions ran high. A bi-racial committee was formed of students and teachers to help navigate a way to bring normalcy to the school. It was my privilege to serve on that committee as the vice-president of the student body.

I was saved my senior year of high school, and a few months after graduation I answered God’s call to the ministry. Upon attending a Baptist college that fall, one of the first friends I made was an African-American ministerial student. We were from the same town but knew nothing of each other. We traveled together several times going home.

Later as I pastored, racism reared its ugly head. We had a special outreach emphasis one Sunday in the church where I was serving, and An African-American family visited that day. I had a church leader tell me not to give an invitation because “they” might come forward. I told him the ground was level at the foot of cross and gave the invitation as usual.

I was weary of many of the trappings of a typical church and wanted to do something different. A church only 18 months old began to consider me for their pastorate, and in my self-righteous smugness, I told them I would not consider it unless they had an open door to all people. They told me the vice-chairman of deacons was in an inter-racial marriage. I had to check my own heart to see if I really meant what I was saying. For seven years I pastored a multi-racial congregation reaching all kinds of people.

When I became executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, I made every effort to pursue Hispanic, Asian, African-American and multi-racial involvement in the convention. About 600 of the 2,600 affiliated SBTC congregations are non-Anglo. We have worked hard to have a diverse staff, and elected leaders reflect that diversity as well.

Last fall I was privileged to perform a marriage ceremony of a bi-racial couple. Since the African-American groom lost his mother a few years back, he has called my wife “mom.” If this gets me in trouble with the “Alt-Right White Supremacists” and the KKK, so be it. I renounce their anti-Semitism and racism.  

As a white man I cannot experience the feelings held by those of other races. I am still a work in progress. All I can do is seek to submit my heart to the Lord Jesus and love people unconditionally like he did. The only racial reconciliation that will be permanent is when we are at the feet of Jesus. He is the great equalizer. Let’s stay close to Jesus; then we will be close to one another.   

REVIEW: “The Nut Job 2” is surprisingly good, with a solid lesson about hard work

Surly is a big-city, bombastic purple squirrel who is living in, well, squirrel heaven. At least, that’s how he and most other squirrels see it.

It all started when the local Nut Shop business closed its doors and left a lifetime supply of nuts in the basement. No longer would Surly and his companions be forced to search for nuts. Instead, they could sit around, cook nuts all day and party. Sure, they’ll eventually lose their natural instincts, but who cares?

“This is the life—literally doing nothing,” he says.

But laziness has its downsides, like when a fellow squirrel fails to shut off a boiler. That, in turn, causes the Nut Shop to explode, which, in turn, vaporizes their food supply.

“Where are we going to find food?!” one young squirrel asks.

Andie, an optimistic female squirrel, has an idea: They’ll hunt for their food in the local park.

“Hard work always pays off,” she says.  

But the crooked mayor has other plans for that lovely patch of greenery: He wants to turn into an amusement park because, as he sees it, amusement parks provide more rides, more fun and more profit. You can’t make money from children playing on the playground!

It’s all in The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which opens this weekend and continues the crazy antics of Surly (Will Arnett), Andie (Katherine Heigl) and Precious the dog (Maya Rudolph). Actor Jackie Chan voices a new character in Mr. Feng, the leader of a street mouse gang.

Although Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan) has the power of the city behind him, Surly and his squirrel posse aren’t going to give up without a fight.

The Nut Job 2 is one of the more entertaining animated films of 2017. It also has several life lessons. Let’s look at the details …

Warning: minor spoilers!

Violence/Disturbing Images

Minimal/moderate. The desperate squirrels resort to violence to ward off the mayor’s construction crew. No one gets hurt, but it made me a little uncomfortable. They cause a tractor to wreck. They tear up a construction trailer (and the money in it, too). They throw a portable toilet in the river. They toss a swarm of bees in the cab of a tractor. Later, the mayor decides that violence is necessary to remove the animals, and dynamite is used to try and kill them. (It fails.) The squirrels and some of their animal friends attack the amusement park, starting ketchup and mustard “wars” and hitting someone who is playing whack-a-mole over the head with the mallet. The mayor’s bratty daughter is the most disturbing character in the movie, pulling heads off dolls and also forcing her dog to play dead (she play-shoots it) before she feeds it.   


Minimal. Frankie, a male dog, says to Precious, “I know this relationship is moving fast, but when it’s right, it’s right.” The same dog also drools while looking at his female crush.  

Coarse Language

None, other than “jeez” (2) and an unfinished “what the ….”  

Other Positive Elements

Andie emphasizes the importance of hard work over laziness (see Worldview, below). She also shares the nuts she had stored for winter with others. Characters do commit crimes, but they are caught and pay the price. The squirrels who had lived in the Nut Shop basement learn to appreciate the outdoors.

Other Negative Elements

Frankie tries to impress Precious by regurgitating his previously eaten food, supposedly so she can eat it, too. Later, she tries to do the same thing. Yuck.

We briefly see the mice meditating, with their hands in a Gyan Mudra position.

One character says, “If you don’t help me save my friends, I’ve got nothing to live for.”

Life Lessons

Unlike some animated films (say, The Emoji Movie), The Nut Job 2 is full of lessons. We learn about hard work, generosity, self-sacrifice and teamwork. There’s even a brief lesson about waking up early!

The movie flirts with the notion that animals are good and humans are bad, but it stops just short of that and delivers a satisfying ending. Surly even says in the end: Many humans are good. Besides, the mayor was an awful guy. And, it is a bad idea to turn a nature park into an amusement park.  


Scripture has a lot to say about work and about laziness: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Proverbs 21:25). The Bible begins with a story of God working, and then it tells us that God commanded Adam to work (Genesis 2:15).

The Nut Job 2 give us one character (Andie) who believes squirrels should work for their food, and one character (Surly) who wants the easy path.

“We work hard. We store. We save. … ‘Easy’ doesn’t build character. ‘Easy’ doesn’t last,” Andie says.

She wants everyone to rise early and hunt for food, but Surly wants to sleep in.

“There are no shortcuts in life,” she adds.

In the end, Andie’s ideas prevail.

This lesson about hard work is underscored in the mayor’s amusement park. He wanted to cut corners. It was a bad idea.  


Most of the violence is of the Looney Tunes variety, but I wish it would have been dialed back a bit. Still, it has minimal potty humor (a big achievement in 2017), and it has no language. For little ones, it’s mostly family-friendly.

Movie Partners

Hardees, Carl’s Jr. and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt are the three most well-known partners (at least for kids).

What I Liked

The Nut Job 2 is genuinely funny, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of, say, Despicable Me. The lesson on hard work is a good one.  

What I Didn’t Like

Does anyone find jokes about regurgitation funny? I don’t. Also, the mayor’s bratty daughter is too bratty. Simply put, she’s annoying.     

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

I didn’t expect much out of The Nut Job 2. But I was pleasantly surprised. Thumbs up.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does the Bible say about work? About laziness?
  2. Andie says, “Hard work always pays off.” Is that true?
  3. Did you think Surly’s actions against the construction crew were morally permissible?
  4. What did you think about the movie’s animals-vs.-people plot?

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

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is rated PG for action and some rude humor.