Month: August 2022

7 action steps to turn your church around

It is not altogether uncommon for a church member to feel as though the church has plateaued or has lost her way. Sometimes the feeling is justified. Sometimes it is based on false understandings or misguided expectations.

Still, church members who walk closely with Jesus want to see their churches thrive. There is a holy burden about them to take some action that might rekindle a fire and bring about a spiritual awakening. But what action is there to take?

Spiritual vitality is not a pursuit consigned to the vocational minister. Every church member is called to take those actions that would infuse the hope of the gospel into the daily life of the fellowship and advance the Great Commission in the community and around the world. Through the centuries God has used everyday Christians to ignite spiritual fire and to bring about biblical change. Pastors and other vocational leaders are gifts from God for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry. But it is the saints who, having been equipped, are to deploy to this work and bring about substantive change for the sake of Great Commission advance.

When discontentment comes within your local church body, what can a church member do? What, exactly, are some practical action steps everyday church members can take to help turn the church around?

Here are seven action steps you can begin taking today to help turn your church around:


A praying church is a powerful church, and praying churches are made up of praying church members. Generally, when it comes to the intervention of the Holy Spirit in the life of a church, you will not see in public what you neglect to request of God in private. Many church members get nothing from their corporate spiritual community because they ask for nothing in their private spiritual rhythms. If you really believe that the Holy Spirit can turn your church around, get on your knees before God daily and ask Him to do just that.

Pursue holiness

When it comes to spiritual awakening, God uses those born-again believers in Jesus Christ who are pursuing personal holiness. They study Christ’s Scripture. They obey Christ’s commands. They conform to Christ’s character. If you want your church to be characterized by the peculiar grace of God, then be a church member whose life is a sincere, open display of that peculiar grace.

Evangelize the lost

Your church has this one core message—the message of salvation and the assurance of heaven through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. Share that message with those who are not yet Christians. Your circle of influence is your responsibility. God put you in their lives to reach them with the gospel before it’s too late. Thriving churches are those whose members actively share the gospel with unbelievers and invite them to respond in faith. If you want your church to be that church, you need to be that church member.

Disciple someone

Mature things reproduce. When spiritual maturity is in view, spiritual reproduction is happening. For millennia, spiritually mature church members have been systematically walking with new believers as they learn how to develop in Bible study, prayer, evangelism, and other devotional rhythms. If you want to see the next spiritual generation of church members become devoted to Christ and grow in the faith, find a small group to disciple. Ask your pastor if you need help identifying someone to disciple or for recommended tools for the discipleship process.

Encourage church leadership

While vocational ministry can be rewarding beyond measure, it can also be extremely discouraging. Every church leader I know faces constant discouragement. But it is God’s desire that they be able to do their jobs with joy and not with grief (Hebrews 13:17). When they can live out their calling with joy it is to the church member’s benefit. But often the church member himself or herself is the very source of discouragement. Be assured of this: encouraged church leaders lead better. Be the church member who intentionally encourages—or starts a movement of intentional encouragement for—your church leaders.

Choose grace

Grace is not a novel concept, but it is increasingly rare in Western churches. Grace gives. Grace sacrifices. Grace inspires. Grace is giving someone something they simply do not deserve. Words can be gifts. Smiles can be gifts. Simple acts of service can be a gift. Restraint can be a gift. Listening can be a gift. The benefit of the doubt can be a gift. In the gathering, be a gift-giver. Whether or not this changes your church, it will surely change you.

Be relentlessly optimistic

Anyone who has sat under my leadership, in any setting, has heard me use this phrase. There is no place for “cautious optimism” in the church. By God’s own design, everything moves forward toward the consummation of his redemptive plan. Every win and every failure. Every joy and every pain. Every crisis is an opportunity for God to prove Himself faithful to those who walk closely with him. And he will again and again. Be the church member, through seasons of crisis or change, who keeps an eye out for God’s gracious activity in it all, with full expectation that He will use it for His glory and your good. Be relentlessly optimistic.

In times of disillusionment with your church’s season, it is a false presumption that you can do nothing about it. Checking off these seven action steps may not produce your desired positive results in your church, but I promise that giving your regular attention to them will produce some positive results in you.

Every day you have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. If you are dissatisfied with the direction of your church, resist the urge to think you’re already doing everything you can. Instead, start working through these seven action steps and watch how God will bring about renewed shape and purpose not just in your congregation, but in your own life as well.

‘The main thing you have to give God is a healthy you,’ Witt tells Equip Conference

FORT WORTH—In the course of ministry, church leaders will be called to lead through many difficult situations and, at times, difficult people. So who is the most difficult person to lead in the church?


That’s what Lance Witt—a pastor, author, and founder of Replenish Ministries—noted during his keynote address during the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Equip Conference Saturday at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. More than 1,800 people registered for the event.

For those looking to better lead themselves, Witt offered three pillars of a healthy soul:

Take personal responsibility

The key to maintaining a health soul begins with each individual person understanding they are solely responsible for the task. And that task is not beyond our ability, Witt said, quoting Deuteronomy 30:11.

“God says, ‘I have made this abundant, rich, fulfilling, fruitful life available to you, and it has nothing to do with your circumstances or the car you drive or where you live or the size of your ministry,’” Witt said.

Witt recalled a particularly busy and chaotic season of ministry, one in which he was not leading himself or his family well due to the demands of pastoring while on staff at Saddleback Church in California. Though he tried to convince his wife—and himself—that the frenetic pace was manageable because it was “just for a season,” she reminded him of a reality that he had failed to see: “There’s always a reason or a season why you can’t be who you’re supposed to be.”

Those words, spoken by his wife, helped him change his perspective and begin a journey to reprioritizing and reorganizing his life and ministry.

“I realized I was who I was because of the decisions that I was making,” Witt said, “and one of the best days of my life was the day that I began to own—be responsible—for the health of my soul.”

Identify the toxins that are poisoning your soul

“In order for us to live and lead from a healthy soul, we’re going to have to grow in our self-awareness,” Witt said. The most effective church leaders expend a tremendous amount of time and effort getting to know those to which they minister, but very little time understanding not only what is life-giving to themselves, but the things that drain their souls.

Character traits such as being driven, having ambition, and being a hard worker have a shadow side when not performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Having a strong work ethic can become workaholism that pulls leaders away from their time with the Lord and their families. Ambition can transform doing all in the name of Jesus to doing all in the name of your own advancement.

Said Witt: “Some of the very things that people will applaud in your life are things that will wreck your soul.” Leaders who embrace the reality that they’re simultaneously broken and unconditionally loved by the Lord will find the need to perform or strive less and less necessary.

Integrate authentic spiritual practices

“Your highest calling is to love and pursue Jesus,” Witt said. “But if you’ve been leading in the church longer than a week, you know that it’s easy sometimes to let your work for God replace your being with God.”

Witt said church leaders hold the positions they do because they want to make God known. To continue to serve effectively, those leaders must continue to know Him themselves and grow in their own love for Jesus. Spiritual practices such as fasting, solitude, unhurried prayer, personal retreat, sabbath, and lingering over Scripture are critical in continuing to love Him deeper.

“Your church is not your life. Your family is not your life. Your ministry is certainly not your life. The Lord is your life,” Witt said. “… Self-care is not selfishness. It’s good stewardship. … The main thing you have to give God, the main thing you have to give your church or your ministry, is a healthy you.”

SBC leaders respond to DOJ investigation

NASHVILLE (BP)—The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has been informed that the United States Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the SBC that will include “multiple SBC entities,” according to an Aug. 12 statement from all SBC entity leaders and SBC President Bart Barber.

“Individually and collectively, each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation,” the statement said.

The announcement comes two months after messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim passed a resolution On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse. Southern Baptists also voted overwhelmingly to adopt a report that approved recommendations toward addressing and preventing sexual abuse in the Convention.

The SBC spent nearly $2 million on an independent investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions, which submitted its report in May. Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the SBC, has committed $4 million for the implementation of messenger-approved actions and to support survivors of sexual abuse.

Requests for comment from Guidepost Solutions and the DOJ were not returned by the time of publication. This story will be updated to include information as it becomes available.

In the statement, SBC leaders say they will comply with the DOJ’s request.

“Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse,” the leaders said, adding that their willingness to cooperate should send the message that they are taking sexual abuse seriously.

“While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future,” the statement said. “The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.”

They asked for prayer and for God’s wisdom as they proceed.

“While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead. Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation,” they wrote.

The statement is signed by:

Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bart Barber, President, SBC

Paul Chitwood, President, International Mission Board

James K. Dew, President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

D. Hance Dilbeck, Jr., President, Guidestone Financial Resources

Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board

Adam W. Greenway, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jeff Iorg, President, Gateway Seminary

Brent Leatherwood, Acting President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Ben Mandrell, President, Lifeway Christian Resources

Willie D. McLaurin, Interim President, SBC Executive Committee

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sandra Wisdom-Martin, Executive Director, Woman’s Missionary Union

The full statement is posted below:

The SBC Executive Committee recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities.

Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation. While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future. The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.

We recognize our reform efforts are not finished. In fact, those efforts are continuing this very moment as the recently announced Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force begins its work and as each entity has strengthened its efforts to protect against abuse. Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse.

While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead.

Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

SWBTS will grant full scholarships to IMB missionaries

FORT WORTH—Calling it a “historic new initiative,” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam W. Greenway announced in a video released today that beginning with the fall 2022 semester, the Fort Worth institution will provide a full tuition scholarship to all International Mission Board missionaries enrolled in the seminary’s master’s degrees and doctoral programs.

“Our mission is to penetrate the darkness of lostness around the globe with the light of the Gospel, and we are committed to lowering financial barriers to that service while providing the very best theological education to prepare you to live your calling for more faithful service,” Greenway said. “We believe that those of you who have given your lives to serving on the frontlines around the world are worthy of this type of investment on our part so that you may, indeed, fulfill your calling.”

Joined in the video by IMB President Paul H. Chitwood, Greenway also announced students who are current IMB applicants who have yet to receive appointments will have 100 percent of their tuition covered for a 36-hour Master of Theological Studies degree, which meets the mission board’s theological education requirements for missionary appointment.

Chitwood noted theological education is “one fundamental mark” required of IMB missionaries who serve on the mission field. He called Southwestern Seminary’s tuition announcement an “unprecedented step” as the institution makes “theological education more accessible and more affordable for those who are preparing to serve on the mission field as well as for those who are already serving on the mission field.”

Greenway said a “trained missionary force is a more effective missionary force,” while also noting the tuition scholarship “is made possible because of generous ministry partners who support Southwestern Seminary.”

Since its founding in 1908, Southwestern Seminary has trained more missionaries for service through the IMB than any other seminary in Southern Baptist history. Chitwood said the IMB has “sent many Southwesterners to the nations through the IMB” and through the new tuition scholarship he believes that “we’re about to send many more.”

Chitwood added, “I’m certain that this full tuition scholarship for IMB missionaries, and those in the appointment process, will result in more missionaries getting overseas with more training, more quickly, and more free of financial worries all for the purpose of them being more effective at getting the Gospel to more people.” He encouraged existing missionary personnel and candidates who are trying to meet the IMB’s theological education requirements to “take advantage of this historic opportunity” at Southwestern Seminary.

Greenway concluded with the affirmation that both Southwestern Seminary and the IMB “seek to send out the next generation of missionaries who will reach the world with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ” through the “new partnership.”

Southwestern Seminary’s fall 2022 academic semester begins August 15.

More information about the tuition scholarship, and the application process to Southwestern Seminary, can be found at


Pastors say comfort tops list of modern-day idols

NASHVILLE—Idols don’t always come in the form of carved statues or reside in places of worship. Many pastors believe modern-day idols can be benign-looking desires with significant influence on people in their congregations.

According to a study from Lifeway Research, more than half of U.S. Protestant pastors believe comfort (67 percent), control or security (56 percent), money (55 percent) and approval (51 percent) are idols that have significant influence on their congregations. When asked to choose the potential idol with the most sway over people in their churches, pastors again point to comfort (30 percent) and control or security (20 percent) above the others.

“It’s easy to think that those in Christian churches have chosen their God and are faithful to Him,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “However, pastors quickly acknowledge how divided their congregations’ allegiances can be. These gods don’t have a physical shrine, but they compete for the hearts of Christians.”

Significant influence of idols

While most pastors point to comfort, security, money and approval as potential idols, fewer say success (49 percent) and social influence (46 percent) are idols in their congregations. Nearly 2 in 5 say political power (39 percent) is an idol their congregants face, and nearly 1 in 3 say sex or romantic love (32 percent). Another 14 percent of pastors say none of these are idols with influence in their churches, and 2 percent say they’re not sure.

Younger pastors are more likely than older pastors to identify several of these modern-day idols in their churches – particularly political power, money and control or security. Pastors ages 18-44 are the most likely to say political power (55 percent) and control or security (72 percent) are idols they see in their congregations.

The younger pastors are, the more likely they are to see money as a rival object of worship. Pastors ages 18-44 (63 percent) and 45-54 (58 percent) are more likely to say money is an idol in their churches than pastors 65 and older (46 percent).

Furthermore, older pastors are less likely to identify any of these potential idols among their congregants. Pastors ages 55-64 (18 percent) and over 64 (19 percent) are more likely to say none of these are idols in their churches than pastors 18-44 (9 percent) or 45-54 (10 percent).

“The large differences we see between younger and older pastors cannot be definitively explained by this study,” McConnell said. “There are signs that younger pastors are of the mindset that idols are rampant today, whereas older pastors may be slower to classify one of these as having significant influence on their people, or they may define idols more narrowly.”

Some different modern-day idols stood out to pastors of different ethnicities. White pastors are more likely than African American pastors to identify political power (41 percent v. 29 percent) and approval (53 percent v. 40 percent) as idols in their churches. And African American pastors are more likely than white pastors to say none of these are idols in their churches (25 percent v. 13 percent).

Pastors with higher levels of education are more likely than pastors with less formal education to identify money and control or security as idols in their churches. Pastors with master’s degrees (64 percent) or doctoral degrees (57 percent) are more likely than those with no college degree (43 percent) to say money is an idol in their churches. And pastors with master’s degrees (67 percent) or doctoral degrees (64 percent) are more likely than those with bachelor’s degrees (47 percent) or without college degrees (38 percent) to say control or security. Meanwhile, pastors with no college degree (25 percent) are the most likely to say none of these are modern-day idols in their churches.

Pastors of larger churches are more likely to identify idols of social influence and sex or romantic love in their congregations than pastors of smaller churches. Pastors of churches with more than 250 (55 percent) in attendance and those with 100-249 (51 percent) are more likely than those at churches with 50-99 (42 percent) or less than 50 (39 percent) to say social influence. Similarly, pastors at churches with attendance of more than 250 (40 percent) and 100-249 (39 percent) are more likely than those at churches with attendance of 50-99 (30 percent) or fewer than 50 (21 percent) to identify sex or romantic love as an idol.

“In many ways, the top three idols pastors recognize in their churches are related. Comfort and security draw the hearts of the most congregations, but they are often enabled by the pursuit of more money,” McConnell said. “Pastors of higher socioeconomic levels are quicker to recognize the influence of security and control while pastors of lower socioeconomic levels more readily see the draw of comforts.”

Denominational differences also play a role in how likely pastors are to say they recognize idolatrous influences in their congregations. Non-denominational (23 percent) and Pentecostal pastors (20 percent) are more likely than Methodist (9 percent) or Restorationist movement pastors (6 percent) to say they don’t see any of the potential idols influencing people in their churches.

Most influential idol

Comfort (30 percent), control or security (20 percent) and money (13 percent) also top the list of modern-day idols with the most influence on congregations. But political power (10 percent) and social influence (9 percent) climbed above approval (6 percent) and success (4 percent) when pastors were asked to select the one modern-day idol they believe has the most influence on their congregations. Less than 1 percent point to sex or romantic love as the idol with the most influence in their churches. Another 7 percent say they aren’t sure.

“Americans’ obsession with pursuing more stuff is clearly seen within the church as well,” McConnell said. “The largest number of congregations battle the influence of first-world comforts, and churches’ second most common modern-day idol is the commitment to keeping secure the comforts they already have.”

The allure of political power is more common in certain congregations. White pastors (12 percent) are more likely than African American pastors (2 percent) to say political power is the modern-day idol with the most influence on their congregations. And younger pastors—those 18-44 (14 percent) and 45-54 (13 percent)—are more likely than pastors over 65 (5 percent) to identify political power as the most influential idol in their congregations. Pastors in the Midwest (14 percent) and West (14 percent) are also among the most likely to say political power. Furthermore, pastors of Baptist (11 percent), Methodist (11 percent) and non-denominational (15 percent) churches are more likely than pastors of Presbyterian/Reformed (4 percent) churches to say political power is the idol with the most influence in their congregations.

Social influence holds more sway in large churches and is more often spotted by older clergy. Pastors at the largest churches, those with more than 250 in attendance (17 percent), are among the most likely to say social influence is the primary idol in their churches. Those over the age of 65 (13 percent) are more likely than pastors ages 18-44 (5 percent) to say social influence is the most influential idol in their churches. And Restorationist movement pastors (18 percent) are more likely than Baptist (8 percent), Methodist (8 percent) and Pentecostal (5 percent) pastors to say the same.

Denominationally, some pastors are more likely to see success as an idolatrous temptation for their congregations. Pentecostal pastors (13 percent) are more likely than Baptist (5 percent), Methodist (3 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (3 percent) and Restorationist movement (less than 1 percent) pastors to say success is the most influential idol in their churches.

For more information, view the complete report and visit

NorthPointe Church celebrates as 15 are baptized in single day

BURLESON—Fifteen people were baptized at NorthPointe Church in one day (Sunday, August 7), and each one had a story of redemption to tell.

NorthPointe has experienced significant growth in the last two years, and it has already baptized 31 people this year. During this most recent baptismal celebration, NorthPointe had one of its highest attendances.

“Baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ,” said Landon Dees, NorthPointe’s lead pastor. Dees started the ceremony by baptizing two elementary school sisters, Sophia and Anika Young, as well as Kody Grounds and Justin Cox.

Dees also had the opportunity to baptize one of his childhood friends, Josh Bridges. “He [has been] my friend since sixth grade—I’ve known him for 30 years, and it is an honor and privilege for me to baptize him, my friend and my brother in Christ,” Dees said, adding that Bridges has struggled with addiction but has been sober for seven years. Dees noted that Bridges is an example of how God can change people when they put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Said Bridges: “This morning I surrendered my life in faith and obedience to God. There’s nothing in this world that is able to stand against God. The evil may try, but when you put on the full armor of God and walk by faith, God promises that He will fight your battles. He will make a way when you don’t see a way. For almost 20 years I lived in a bottle. I was running from my hurts, fear, anxiety—it cost me absolutely everything. When I lost everything, I didn’t stop there, it only got darker. I spent another six years living in that darkness, lost. The man who baptized me today is the same man that has been there the whole time.”

Dees has been preaching a series of messages based on the book of Esther, recently sharing how the Lord took care of Mordechai and Esther. Dees encouraged the church by saying, “Today is a day of celebration. Look for the hand of God in every way. Celebrate the hand of God in everyday things. Christians, God will turn the table on the enemy. He will deliver us in the future to come.”

NorthPointe’s administration and students pastor, Jeremy Dooley, performed 10 of the baptisms. With tears of joy in his eyes, he was able to baptize his two sons, Ryne and Rayce. After addressing each child, telling them how much he loves them and how proud he was of them, Dooley said to his son, “I prayed for this day since before you were born, and I baptize you as your father, as my son, and as my brother in Christ, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Dooley baptized three sisters in Christ and sisters in life—Kaela, Delaney, and Emery Dickerson—who after affirming Jesus as their Lord decided to proclaim their faith and get baptized.

Their father, Dr. Travis Dickinson, a professor at Dallas Baptist University, author, and deacon at NorthPointe, said, “There’s perhaps no better sign of a healthy church than to see adults and teenagers getting baptized. It’s been such a joy to see this regularly at NorthPointe Church and it was especially joyful that our three daughters were part of that. [My wife] Shari and I have never pressured them to get baptized since we wanted it to be their decision to commit to follow Jesus with their lives. We wanted it to be a big moment, and it was.”

Dooley also baptized, Briar Vogelgesang, Michaela Baxter, Hudson Hall, Conway Mcain, and Anthony Lewis.

Because of NorthPointe’s consistent growth, church leaders are looking to expand their facilities. Dees asks that all pray that God would give the church clarity and provision as they look to expand their worship center and that they would remain diligent at sharing the gospel and discipling those who are saved.


Thou Art Sad! Get Thee a Wife (or Husband)!

Thou Art Sad! Get Thee a Wife!

Blame Shakespeare for the line, but I believe it’s true in nearly every case. It’s no coincidence that our troubled culture has also increasingly turned away from marriage, either by divorce or indefinitely delaying the decision.

You’ve likely heard the stats: married people are healthier, more stable in their jobs, make more money, and more successfully raise kids who don’t go to jail.

I’m not convinced that a generation has arisen that says “Never!” to marriage so much as “Maybe some day,” or “Sure, but what about the downside?” Let me comment on a few objections I’ve heard to the call to seek a lifelong mate.

Marriage will limit me

In terms of some unattainable absolute freedom, it will. So also will employment limit you, as will age, and success and failure. Consider the possibility that some limitation is good for you. Paul, a single guy, says, “Better to marry than to burn,” as he speaks of sexual immorality and lust. We may be a society that is turning against marriage, but we are not a people who have rejected lust. Understand, I’m speaking to believers here; we are obligated to care about personal holiness and also about the well-being of the people among whom we live. Those obligations limit us, too.

I’ve never seen a happy marriage

I understand the point, but it is an exaggeration, an excuse. I’ve seen some troubled marriages and miserable divorces, just as you have. But, if you don’t know any happy long-term marriages, expand your circle of acquaintance—maybe attend a multigenerational church or volunteer at a senior center. I’ve never seen a marriage turn happy, unselfish people into miserable wretches. Something else might do that, but don’t blame the fact that they committed to each other. Child of divorce: understand also that history is not fate. The mistakes of your parents are not necessarily your mistakes.

I’m not ready

No, you’re not. None of us is prepared for such a life-changing relationship. But you can be more ready than you are. Some will think of saving some money or paying off student loans—fine goals—but I’m talking about maturity, spiritual disciplines, and character development that prepare you to love someone else unselfishly. No one has arrived at that point perfectly, so I’m safe in saying you’ll be a better spouse if you move toward Christlikeness. Again, a good church will be essential in this work.

The right one has not come along

I must apologize: my generation taught its kids some really stupid things about love. We’ve written 10,000 sappy songs and bad poems and vacuous screenplays that portray a life that no one can happily live. One song lyric of my era says, “It’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.” Again, I apologize. The fact is, people in small towns and tiny churches have found happiness with people they meet in those very small ponds. Being connected with family helps, as does being involved in a church. The one you marry becomes the “right one” when you commit to love her for the rest of your life. It really is that simple.

A couple of observations about these as a whole. First, plug in “find a job” or “pick a major” and you’ll have some of the same objections. But serious people do find jobs and serious students eventually get a degree in something. The pressure to make a living results in employment—it’s good that way. Consider that loneliness, imagined in middle age or realized at this stage of life, may be the natural impetus to move a person toward marriage, and maybe toward becoming marriageable material. Maybe loneliness is not as crucial to you in this moment as hunger, but there may be a day in which it is more important to you. Ask someone in a marriage that has lasted 30, 40, even 50 years. These veterans can tell you of the difficulties and benefits of marriage. They have also been at it long enough to tell you the downside to maturing alone.

I’m prompted to write this column on the occasion of my 46th wedding anniversary. We married the first Saturday of August and have met many couples who married on that day, if not that date. Someone with my experience can tell you some hair-raising and heartwarming tales of keeping a long-term commitment. We probably shouldn’t do that, except to say that it is possible and it is life-giving, even as it requires all that you have to give.

I am convinced, more than I was in 1976, that this is the path of happiness and joy for nearly everyone. I’m convinced that it is the path for fulfilment for far more of you than have yet embarked on it. Get thee a wife (or husband); this is a goal worth pursuing more diligently than finding a job or a place to live. Jobs come and go, and so do domiciles—those things will never love you for the rest of your life.

State of the Bible: Swath of committed Christians don’t attend church monthly

PHILADELPHIA (BP)—Most of the youngest generations who identify as committed Christians likely do not attend church at least once monthly, the American Bible Society (ABS) said in the latest release from its 2022 State of the Bible.

Among Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X Christians whose personal commitment to Christ is still important in their life today, fewer than a third are described as practicing Christians, a descriptor that includes at least monthly church attendance.

“These are adults up to age 57 who at some point have made a commitment to Christ that’s still important to them. It’s likely that more than two-thirds are not attending church even once a month,” according to the report. “What happened here? Are we seeing a division between a private faith and a public church connection? Are people saying yes to Jesus but no to the church?”

In the chapter that focused closely on Gen Z adults, ages 18-25 in 2021, the characteristic of not attending church neither onsite nor online was prevalent among Gen Z, Millennials (ages 26-41) and Gen X (ages 42-57).

“Can they be wooed back into a vital church connection, in which they are engaging with Scripture, sharing their faith, and growing in the company of other flawed believers?” ABS asked in the study. “And how can we set the stage for that?”

The study is not meant to divide or demean, ABS said, but to encourage unity.

“We long for each generation to connect meaningfully with God’s Word and God’s people. Our challenge is always to see what’s in the data, independent of our hopes, fears, and assumptions,” ABS wrote. “If our churches and ministries are led by older people who criticize younger people for being youthful, they’re in trouble. Different is not necessarily bad. God uses old and young alike. Even now we see many Millennials using their distinctly Millennial traits to serve the church effectively, and we anticipate similar contributions from Generation Z in the decades to come.”

Among other findings, Gen Z faces unprecedented levels of stress, but Scripture engagement aids stress management. The study gauged stress through 10 questions about the most common stress symptoms used in mental health contexts, including sleeplessness, hopelessness, loneliness, anxiety and other negative feelings. On a stress scale of 0-40, Gen Z measured the highest at 14.9, followed by Millennials at 12, Gen X at 9.5, Boomers (born from 1946-1964) at 6.6 and Elders (born from 1928-1945) at 4.4.

“The State of the Bible research shows that (Gen Z) is facing a mental health crisis, with stress, anxiety, and depression far beyond the norm,” the study reads. “This mental health crisis can be viewed as a ministry mandate for churches and Christian ministries, for individual believers and families of everyone in Gen Z, but especially for Gen Z women. What can we do to alleviate these alarming levels of stress, anxiety, and depression?”

Gen Z women reported higher incidents of depression. Across the board among all ages, women reported higher anxiety, with Gen Z women standing at 35 and nearly twice the national average.

“People who read the Bible regularly and apply it to their lives report fewer symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression. This is true throughout the survey data, and especially among Gen Z women,” the study found. “As high as the anxiety and depression levels are for Gen Z women, they’re even higher when these women are Bible Disengaged. The stats for Scripture Engaged men and women in Generation Z show normal levels of anxiety and depression symptoms.”

Throughout the study, ABS measures Scripture engagement based on responses to 14 survey questions gauging the frequency of Bible use, its impact and centrality.

ABS researchers collaborated with the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center to survey a nationally representative group of American adults on topics related to the Bible, faith and the church. The study conducted online via telephone produced 2,598 responses from a representative sample of adults 18 and older in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

The fifth chapter of the study is available here.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Ministry Wives podcast host offers tips she says she wishes she’d had

ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Christine Hoover said when she embarked on her ministry as a pastor’s wife that she “was so young and didn’t know what I was doing at all.”

“I definitely had examples, but I desired a lot more help — for people who had been there to say, ‘Here’s what I’ve learned along the way, the mistakes I’ve made,’ and offer some tips and tools,” she said.

That’s what Hoover hopes to do with her new North American Mission Board (NAMB) podcast, “Ministry Wives,” which starts Aug. 15.

“In each episode, you’ll hear from incredible guests who voice the issues and questions we all face in ministry, who give insight, tools and hope regarding those issues, and who remind us of the joys of serving the Lord in ministry,” she said.

The inspiration for the podcast comes from Hoover’s own experiences as she has served alongside her husband, Kyle, for the past 20-plus years in parachurch ministry, at a large multi-staff church and in church planting. The couple has raised their three sons at Charlottesville Community Church, the church they planted in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2008.

“I like sharing what I’ve learned and hearing what others have learned in their context,” Hoover said. “We’re dealing with similar issues no matter where we are.”

Just as ministry isn’t new to her, neither is podcasting or encouraging ministry wives. For nearly five years, Hoover hosted a podcast called “By Faith,” the last season of which focused on issues facing pastors’ wives.

She’s also written two books on the topic — “The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart” and “How to Thrive as a Pastor’s Wife.”

In the first season, Hoover will sit down with different guests who give insight, advice and personal stories from their ministry experiences. The 16-episode season will run for the rest of 2022 and cover topics such as anxiety, deciding which needs to meet and which to let go, serving different demographics and reaching military communities.

Trevin Wax, vice president of research and resource development for NAMB, said Hoover “has become one of the leading voices speaking truth into the families of church planters and pastors.”

“She brings a depth of experience and a knowledge of God’s Word to the issues of the day and seeks to encourage and equip women for ministry at home and in the church,” he said.

Hoover said her hope is that women serving in different capacities — not just pastors’ wives — will find that the podcast resonates with them.

“This podcast is for any woman serving in ministry,” she said.

To learn more or listen to the podcast, visit

SBTC announces partnership with Nevada Baptist Convention

GRAPEVINE—Underscoring the cooperative work that is hallmark among Southern Baptists, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention announced Tuesday that it has entered into a multiyear ministry partnership with the Nevada Baptist Convention.

The partnership, SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick said, will provide financial support and various resources to help Southern Baptists in Nevada strengthen existing churches, plant new churches, reach the lost, and develop leaders.

In July, the SBTC Executive Committee approved funding of up to $150,000 to be disbursed to the Nevada Baptist Convention in three annual installments of up to $50,000 each beginning this year. A fourth installment may also be given with Executive Committee approval.

“We are excited about [this partnership] and ready to get going with them,” Lorick said. “We want to give them full access to what we do, tell them to take any resources we’ve printed or created and use them in their own context and brand it as if it’s their own, give them backstage access to our events … and say to them, ‘What we have is yours.’”

Damian Cirincione, executive director of the Nevada Baptist Convention, told the SBTC Executive Board on Tuesday that Nevada is the 5th-fastest-growing state in the nation with a population of 3.1 million people—2.2 million of which live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Even so, there is great need to encourage and equip churches in all areas of the state, he said.

Cirincione noted that the Nevada convention has 182 affiliated churches, comparing that to the 2,707 churches that are affiliated with the SBTC. Over the past six months, the Nevada convention has celebrated the launch of two church plants, and Cirincione said three more potential church planters will be assessed in the coming weeks.

“Our congregations need encouragement, our pastors need encouragement, and as a convention, we need help in giving that encouragement,” Cirincione said. “Our heart’s desire … is to be a light to our pastors, and we need help and resources so that we can do that. We know this partnership with [the SBTC] is going to be profound. We’re excited to learn and grow with you.”

Nevada, like Texas, is becoming increasingly diverse. Cirincione said more than 100 countries are represented by the residents of Nevada, who speak 200 languages. Those demographics have created an environment where, again, much like Texas, a great opportunity to reach the nations exists “right in our own backyard.”

“We may be a small convention, but there’s so much work that needs to be done within our state,” Cirincione said, “and I believe with all my heart that we are truly poised for much growth in the coming years. We’re excited to see what God is going to do.”